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Phillies continue to rally late, stealing wins and showing it could be a skill – NBC Sports Philadelphia

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

They did it again Saturday night, coming back from three separate one-point deficits to beat the Nationals, 4-3, in extra time. Bryce Harper powered the Phillies with a one-run sacrifice fly after Kody Clemens crushed a game-tying solo homer to right center with the team on his final two at-bats.

It didn’t matter that the Phillies managed just two hits in six innings, or that when Nationals starter MacKenzie Gore popped out in the seventh, the game’s seven hardest-hit balls all belonged to Washington.

There isn’t much that seems to matter to this team.

“No matter what position we’re in, how far back we are, how far ahead we are or anything like that, we play 27 outs for a reason,” Harper said. “And I think that’s good for a whole season. Anytime you have moments like this or you have opportunities like this, it makes your team even better later in the season. This year in the playoffs because you’ve had those moments, you’ve had those opportunities throughout the year and you kind of take advantage of them as you move forward as a team.

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

Really good might 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 they lost were the first two.

Clemens hasn’t been on his feet for long this season, but he’s made a serious 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 take him off the roster if everyone is healthy when Trea Turner eventually returns from a hamstring strain.

“I think he does a phenomenal job even when he’s not playing or starting the game, later in the game against tough pitchers,” Harper said. “You saw it tonight. … He’s getting more and more at-bats in the big leagues every day.”

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

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

The sound Clemens’ bat made after his swing against Nats closer Kyle Finnegan told you it was okay, but Clemens himself thought he hit it too low to get it out. Then he watched it land on the seats and turned toward an erupting dugout.

“Every other night I feel like it’s someone else,” he said. “It’s amazing. I feel like we’re all here and we’re supposed to win the game before it even starts. It’s a great atmosphere. … Everything is coming together.”

An important, sometimes overlooked, factor in the Phillies’ ability to snatch victory from defeat this season has been frequent downplaying of damage. Nick Senzel’s double off Cristopher Sanchez in the top of the fourth was the Nationals’ sixth hit of the game, hitting 13 batters. But Sanchez generated two early double plays, stranded a runner in scoring position with no one out in the fourth and struck out the final seven batters, including four by strikeout.

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

“Sanchez was fantastic, he hit 98 (mph) and held his command,” manager Rob Thomson said. “Changeup was really good. The growth of this guy, mentally and emotionally, fighting right after the innings.

“Our starters find a way to kill the chaos and just come out of 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 gun and his fastball velocity was up about 1.5 mph from 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.

Asked about bending without breaking Saturday night, Sanchez said he wanted to emulate what he was seeing from Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

“Great pitchers do that and I try to mirror that from Wheels and Nola,” he said. “Even though you get hit sometimes, it doesn’t stop you, and it doesn’t stop them. I try to see that in myself, too.”

Music typically continues blasting in the Phillies clubhouse 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. “It’s incredible.”

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

News Source : www.nbcsportsphiladelphia.com
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