PHILADELPHIA — Bryce Harper, who committed 13 years of his life to the Philadelphia Phillies, only to watch his former team win the World Series the year after he departed, believes the time is now.
First baseman Rhys Hoskins, who watched this team lose 90 or more games three consecutive years after he was drafted, can’t put in words yet what one more victory will mean.
Veteran catcher J.T. Realmuto, who never played on a winning team until a year ago, says he can’t stop dreaming.
Left fielder Kyle Schwarber, one of only two players in the Phillies clubhouse who has a World Series ring, says he feels the same magical vibe he felt in 2016 with the Chicago Cubs.
Right fielder Nick Castellanos, who was booed all year by the Phillies’ fans, only to step up when they needed the most, tried to remain calm with all the noise surrounding him.
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GAME 4: Phillies on the brink of World Series after 10-6 win
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The top of the Phillies’ order put on an offensive performance for the ages Saturday night, and now has the team on the brink of the World Series after a zany 10-6 victory over the San Diego Padres.
The Phillies, with a 3-1 lead in the National League Championship Series, can clinch their first World Series berth since 2009 Sunday in Game 5 with their hottest pitcher, Zack Wheeler, on the mound.
In front of another frenzied crowd.
“It’s tough,’’ Castellanos said, “to play in the jungle, man.’’
Here’s how the top of the order fared Saturday:
Leadoff hitter, Schwarber: 2-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 runs.
No. 2, Hoskins: 2-for-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 runs.
No. 3, Realmuto: 1-for-2, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 runs.
Cleanup, Harper: 2-for-4, 2 doubles, 2 RBI, 1 run.
No. 5, Castellanos: 2-for-4, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 run.
The final tally: 9-for-18 (.500), 3 doubles, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 10 runs, three walks and one strikeout.
“Pretty crazy, right?’’ Schwarber said. “We did some pretty cool things in that game.’’
This is a team that was down 4-0 by the sixth batter of the game. They walked into the dugout, serenaded by boos with players shouting “we got 27 outs to go!’’
Four batters later, after a single by Schwarber, a two-run homer by Hoskins, a walk to Realmuto, and a run-scoring double by Harper, it was 4-3. Both starters were knocked out of the game by the first inning. It was the shortest combined starting performance in postseason history.
“It was a blur,’’ Schwarber said, “with all of the emotion that was going through that game. It was a bunch of screaming, a bunch of yelling, a lot of cheering.
“Your head kind of hurts after it.’’
Said Harper: “I don’t think there was any panic or any opportunity to think about it. It was just like, ‘Alright, we’ve got to get the job done.'”
The Phillies tied the game in the fourth with Bryson Stott driving in Castellanos after a double.
They trailed again in the fifth, 6-4, after Juan Soto’s home run, only to have Schwarber draw a one-out walk, Hoskins to hit a two-run homer, a Realmuto walk, a run-scoring double by Harper and a run-scoring single by Castellanos.
It was 8-6, and the Phillies never looked back, tacking on a Schwarber homer in the sixth and a Realmuto homer in the seventh.
“I think to do it on the stage we’re in right now,’’ said Hoskins, who became the first Phillies player to hit two homers in a postseason game since Chase Utley in 2009, “should give us all the confidence in the world that no matter the lead, no matter when it is in the game, we feel like we have a chance. As an offense, that’s an outstanding thing to have.’’
Hey, it has a way of doing wonders for a fella’s image, too. Hoskins, who entered the game hitting .135 with 14 strikeouts in the postseason, was loudly booed when his name was introduced before the game.
“We know how our fans are,’’ Harper said. “We love that about them. They’re going to let you know. It is what it is.
“They’re going to boo you when you’re bad. I totally understand it. I get it. And they’re going to love you when you’re really good.’’
And when the Phillies are rolling, as the Padres discovered Saturday night, those same fans have a way of making life absolutely miserable for the visitors.
“We knew the crowd was going to be a factor,’’ Hoskins said. “We’re confident in that. When you get a couple guys on, it gets a little louder. You get the one big hit, it gets louder, and that’s where you can really snowball things. …
“It’s deafening loud, right? Just the whole scene. And as soon as you step on the field, really in batting practice, you can just kind of feel the electricity building.
“I need some more. I need some more of it.’’
It was just four years ago when Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million contract to take the Phillies where they wanted to go. He won an MVP, but also watched his former team, the Washington Nationals, win the 2019 World Series without him.
Now, it may be his turn for glory, one win away from playing in his first World Series.
“It’s incredible to see him really perk up and do this on the biggest stage in this game,’’ Hoskins said. “I’m sure he’s got more in store for us because that’s the type of ballplayer he is.’’
Harper got the crowd even more riled up in the fifth inning with his go-ahead RBI double. He threw his fist into the air, grabbed his jersey to show the Phillies name across the front and screamed, ‘This is my [bleeping] house!’’
“Just the opportunity to do that, man,’’ Harper said. “We’re all in this, and the whole city of Philadelphia and all the Phillies in the organization. The fans have showed out for us each night. It was rocking again tonight.
“I just try to do the best I can to represent the Phillies on my chest. That’s all that matters.’’
Here they are, 27 outs away from being kings of the National League once again, just as Harper envisioned when he signed, knowing it would take a little time.
Now, Harper says, they’re here to stay.
“I believe our team is built for October, I really do,’’ Harper said. “Our organization, they believe in us, and we believe in them as well to make us great.’’
Now, just one more step, and that vision becomes reality.
“You can’t write it better for the guys in that room,’’ Hoskins says, “for the staff, for everybody in this organization, and I think most importantly, for the city.
“I can’t imagine what [Sunday] is going to be like.’’
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