LOS ANGELES – Four players from a landslide victory and a well-balanced wild ride against the twin powerhouses of baseball over the past decade, Veles The perfect match was on Wednesday.
“Alvarado vs. Barnes?” said manager Rob Thompson. “I’ll take Alvarado. Every day of the week.”
For the record, this is Jose Alvarado, the Phillies’ flame-throwing left hand and the sport’s most relieved so far this season, against Austin Barnes, the Dodgers’ backup catcher who hits .104. How many times did Alvarado win that duel? Nine out of 10? Ninety out of 100?
But Barnes pitched the two-hit pitch, and the way the Phillies defended in the series finale at Dodger Stadium, anything could happen. Even Edmundo Sosa, an outstanding third baseman, could miss a ball that went over his glove to left field for a light shot.
And on a day when Bryce Harper struck out three batters, reached base five times, and threw off Rust in only his second game after returning with a warp speed from Tommy John’s elbow surgery, the Phillies were punched in the gut, 10-6, after a 5-0 lead. in the third game and 5-4 with two outs in the eighth game.
“This can’t happen,” Harper said. “He gave us that game away. He can no It is happening. The way we want to do this year and the way we want to play this year, every year, that can’t happen.”
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In the end, it wasn’t Sosa’s fault—in a way, Barnes took credit on a hit single—that sank the Phillies. It wasn’t Nick Castellanos’ right fielding error that led to Chris Taylor’s three-run home run in the seventh, either. Or left fielder Kyle Schwarber’s inability to hold James Ottman in the eighth.
The Dodgers won the grand slam in a Max Muncy game against reliever Craig Kimbrel and celebrated with him at home plate before a midweek crowd of 36,539. They sent the Phillies to their fourth straight defeat after winning the first two games of the trip in Houston last weekend.
And now, Harper will be back in a big way at Citizens Bank Park Friday night with the Phillies 15-17-year-old.
“The ball ended up in the benches, and I’m walking off the field. It’s so frustrating,” Kimbrell said. “I just didn’t make a couple of pitches.”
But it might not have come that far if Sosa had caught a ball that came off Barnes’ bat at just 89 mph. It may have hinged or changed direction. Sosa couldn’t tell. It’s a play he usually does.
“It’s simple,” Sosa said through a translator on the team. “I should have caught that ball. That’s a play to be made. Honestly, it wasn’t even a very hard game.”
Instead of coming out of the round with a 5-4 lead, the Phillies trailed 6-5. Harper brought them back to the top of the ninth. He broke up two singles to right field and scored from second batters later on Bryson Stott’s single.
Kimbrel, who fumbled the Dodgers closer job late last season and was left off the postseason roster, gave up a single performed by Chris Taylor in the ninth. It was downhill from there. Kimbrel loaded the bases on an intentional walk off Freddie Freeman and a walk to Will Smith before Muncy ambushed his fastball on the first pitch.
And so, after defeating the Phillies by a 26-5 margin in the first two games of the series, the Dodgers finished the sweep in a series between teams with pennant-winning visions.
There were times when they did not belong to the same domain.
“When you play the game the right way, you play it right, you win a lot of games,” Harper said. “There were some mistakes made today, and I think there were some mistakes over the last couple of weeks that we just need to clean up, myself included. I need to play the game the right way, do things the right way. As a whole, we need to be better.”
“We’ve taken him on the chin here in the last three games,” Thompson said. “But you have to dust yourself off and chase him again.”
Harper slips off gracefully
Harper has one default speed. At full speed —but for weeks, team officials wondered how he would react the first time a game put his remodeled right elbow in harm’s way.
In the third period, they figured it out.
The first of Harper’s three strikes – a lot for being rusty, right? – deflected off the sidewall and kicked into left field. He zoomed around first base, arms pumping, legs churning, just as usual. But he chose to slide foot-first to second base.
“I didn’t think there would be a play at second base,” said Harper. “I didn’t even think about slipping head or feet first. It just kind of worked out the way it was.”
Harper wore a heavy brace on his right elbow when he was running the bases. But the Phillies were upset in the ninth inning that, with the new pace-of-play rules, they weren’t given enough time to pitch the prop.
A mixed bag for NOLA
On the plus side, Aaron Nola pitched in the seventh and left with a lead. On the downside, it was a one-time lead after being up 5-0 in the third period.
Nola allowed four runs on seven hits in 6 walkless innings. His biggest hit was a homer by Miguel Vargas in the fourth that cut the lead to 5-3.
“I let that fastball over the plate, and Vargas swung really well,” Nola said. “It was a kind of dagger. Other than that, I felt pretty good.”
Nola’s average fastball speed remained lower than his previous seasons, a factor Thompson attributes to the gradual build-up of arm strength after a shorter-than-normal period.
Backup catcher Garrett Stubbs contributed the big fourth inning with, of all things, two safety pressures.
In only his second start in 14 days—and with his family in town from San Diego for the game—Stubbs pushed a good run to third base and hit it. Brandon Marsh, who was not running on the play, scored with ease, while Stubbs celebrated with dribbles in the direction of the dugout.
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