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Matt Vierling homers twice as Phillies win wild game over Nationals

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Matt Vierling homered twice Friday. (Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire)

Final: Phillies 8, Nationals 7 (10 innings)

Josh Bell homered twice for the Washington Nationals Friday evening. Matt Vierling homered twice for the Philadelphia Phillies Friday evening. And yet, as the Phillies swept the Nationals in their doubleheader, umpire Dan Iassonga perhaps became the game’s biggest protagonist or antagonist, depending on your perspective.

Bell homered in the first game of the double-header — a 5-3 Phillies victory — just as he did in Thursday night’s series opener. In the top of the second inning, Bell homered for a third time in the series, this one a 426-foot blast off of Bailey Falter:

In the top of the third inning, the Phillies got on the board thanks to a 432-foot solo home run by Matt Vierling, his second of the season:

Later in the inning, Yairo Muñoz walked and then stole second base. When Kyle Schwarber hit a ground ball to shortstop Luis García, an aggressive Muñoz ran to third base, and forced García to consider throwing to third base. García ultimately decided to take what he thought was the sure out at first base, only to throw it wide of Bell, allowing Muñoz to score and Schwarber to advance to second base:

Before the inning was out, Schwarber scored on an RBI groundout by Nick Castellanos.

The lead didn’t last long, though, with Bell homering for a fourth time in the series in the bottom of the fourth inning, this one a two-run shot:

With Nick Nelson on in relief of Falter in the sixth inning, the Nationals were able to break the tie, with both former Phillie Maikel Franco and the aforementioned García driving in runs.

Given that Nelson walked the first two batters of the inning, the Phillies were lucky to escape the sixth down just two runs. But as Phillies Nation‘s Nathan Ackerman pointed out, if the Phillies had capitalized on the multiple chances they had to put the Nationals away in Game 1, it may have left them with a better option than Nelson to pitch in what was a tied game.

Nonetheless, Bryce Harper — not in the starting lineup for Game 2 — pinch hit for Odúbel Herrera with two on and two outs in the top of the eighth inning. After Kyle Finnegan had what should have been ball four called a strike, Harper pounced on the next pitch to tie the game:

Harper would steal third base, but was ultimately stranded when Tanner Rainey struck out Alec Bohm to end the inning.

Rainey wasn’t as successful in the ninth inning, however. Vierling hit his second go-ahead home run in the ninth inning of the month, a 397-foot bomb:

Unfortunately for the Phillies, they weren’t able to close the game out in the ninth inning. After Andrew Bellatti recorded the first two outs of the ninth inning, Rob Thomson brought on José Alvarado with a runner on first base and Juan Soto at the plate.

Alvarado walked Soto, setting up a seemingly disastrous matchup against Nelson Cruz. Alvarado did induce what should have been the game-ending groundout, but Didi Gregorius — who had stayed in the game to play shortstop, pushing Bryson Stott to second base, after pinch hitting — threw the ball away, allowing the tying run to score:

As if the game hadn’t been strange enough, Rhys Hoskins was up-ended by García on the go-ahead hit by J.T. Realmuto in the top of the 10th inning. Seeing this, third base coach Dusty Wathan sent Hoskins home behind Schwarber. Hoskins was thrown out by quite a bit, but crew chief Dan Iassonga ruled that he had been interfered with, so he was considered a run scored because the belief from the umpire was that he would have otherwise scored:

The Nationals got one run back off of Alvarado in the home half of the 10th, but former Phillie César Hernández grounded out to third base to end the game.

With the win the Phillies improve to 35-31. The Nationals drop to an unsightly 23-45.

The Phillies will continue their series against the Nationals Saturday afternoon, with Aaron Nola slated to square off with Josiah Gray.

Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Performance

  • Bailey Falter was victimized by two home runs from Josh Bell, but turned in a decent effort overall Friday evening. Across five innings, he allowed five hits and three runs, while striking out four. From here, his best role long-term may still be as a mutli-inning reliever, but it’s nice to have someone that you’re confident can give you at least four or five innings in a pinch.
  • Paolo Espino gave the Nationals five innings in the second leg of the doubleheader, allowing three hits and two runs. The 35-year-old did strike five batters out, but that’s watered down by the fact that he walked four.

Phillies Nugget of the Game

Ticket IQ Next Game

  • Saturday, June 18 vs. Nationals at Nationals Park
  • 4:35 p.m. ET
  • TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP

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