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Phillies keep rallying late, stealing wins and showing it might be a skill

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Phillies keep rallying late, stealing wins and showing it might be a skill

The Phillies keep coming back late, stealing wins and showing that they could be a skill originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The ability to steal wins, to continually come back late in games, doesn’t seem like a trait that should carry over easily from year to year, but the Phillies are putting it to the test.

They did it again Saturday night, overcoming three separate one-run deficits to beat the Nationals, 4-3, in extras. Bryce Harper walked the Phillies with a sacrifice fly one inning after Kody Clemens hit a game-tying solo home run to right-center field with the team down to its final two strikes.

It didn’t matter that the Phillies had only two hits in six innings, or that when Nationals starter MacKenzie Gore came out in the seventh, the game’s seven most-hit balls belonged to Washington.

There’s not much that this team seems to care about.

“No matter what position we’re in, how low we are, how high we are or anything like that, we play 27 outs for a reason,” Harper said. “And I think that’s good for the whole season. Every time you’re in moments like this or you have opportunities like this, it makes your team stronger to be a lot better later in the year in the postseason because you’ve been in those moments.” , you’ve had those opportunities all year and you take advantage of them the further you go as a team.

“Every team is different and I think we have a really good group here.”

Really good could be an understatement. The Phillies are 33-14. No National League team since the 1998 Braves has had a better record through the first 47 games of a season.

The Phillies are undefeated in 14 consecutive series. The only two that have lost were the first two.

Clemens hasn’t been active for much this season, but he has made a big impact when called upon. In his first two starts, he went 4-for-8 with a double, a triple, a home run and seven RBIs. On Monday in New York, he singled in the ninth inning off Mets closer Edwin Diaz and scored the tying run.

It will be difficult to remove him from the roster if everyone is healthy when Trea Turner finally returns from a hamstring strain.

“I think he does a phenomenal job even when he’s not playing or starting the game, blocking out later in the game against tough pitchers,” Harper said. “You saw him tonight…he has at-bats in the Major Leagues, more and more every day.”

Clemens still uses Harper’s bat, just as he did two weeks ago during a four-RBI night against the Blue Jays.

“I’ll give him whatever he wants,” Harper joked after Saturday’s win.

The sound of Clemens’ bat after his swing against Nationals closer Kyle Finnegan told you it was going to work, but Clemens himself thought he hit it too low to get it out. He then saw it land on the seats and looked towards an erupting shelter.

“Every other night I feel like it’s someone else,” he said. “It’s amazing. I feel like we all show up here and are expected to win the game before it even starts. It’s an amazing atmosphere to be around… It’s all coming together.”

A huge, sometimes overlooked, factor in the Phillies’ ability to snatch victory from defeat this season has been frequent damage minimization. Nick Senzel’s double off Cristopher Sánchez in the top of the fourth was the Nationals’ sixth hit of the game, with 13 batters in. But Sánchez generated two early double plays, stranded a runner in scoring position with no out in the fourth and retired the last seven batters he faced, four by strikeout.

A better opponent than the Nationals could have opened the game, but in reality, there are many more teams at Washington’s level than anyone above it. There are five National League clubs above .500. Five. The Phillies will spend many more nights this season playing inferior teams than facing teams as deep or talented as them.

“Sanchez was fantastic, hitting 98 (mph) and staying in control,” manager Rob Thomson said. “The change was really good. The growth of this guy, mentally and emotionally, he just fought in the innings.

“Our starters are finding a way to break up the chaos and just come out of the innings, get a ground ball, get a double play. They have the ability to slow the game down.”

Sanchez hit 98.3 on the radar and his fastball velocity increased about 1.5 mph above his season average, which will make any pitcher better, but especially one with a good changeup. He has a 3.31 ERA in nine starts and has allowed just one home run in 49 innings.

When asked about bending but not breaking on Saturday night, Sanchez said he wants to emulate what he sees from Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

“Great pitchers do that and I try to emulate that from Wheels and Nola,” he said. “Even if they hit you sometimes, it doesn’t stop you or them. I’m trying to see that in myself too.”

Typically, music is still blasting in the Phillies clubhouse for 20 to 30 minutes after a game ends, but the playlist ended earlier than usual on Saturday. Maybe they’re tired of hearing the same victory tunes every night.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Sanchez said of coming to the stadium every day. “This is incredible.”

The Phillies will look for their sixth sweep of the season Sunday afternoon behind Nola, who pitched a four-hit shutout Tuesday in New York.

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