Winning Wet: Phillies 5, Athletics 3

Rain couldn’t stop the Phillies.

Despite an early deficit and a 90-minute rain delay, the Phillies prevailed last night, winning 5-3 against the Athletics and setting up Sunday’s rubber match.

It was exactly what you want to see from a young team. Ben Lively gave up two runs early, but seemed like he was on the comeback trail when the game was delayed after two and a half innings. In reality, the game shouldn’t have even started until the rain had come and gone, because the first few innings were played in a torrential downpour.

The rain delay itself is where the night’s fun really happened. Nick Pivetta took it upon himself to start a stand-off with the Athletics, staying out in the rain and getting drenched, refusing to go inside until the A’s did. Their teammates even constructed little tents for them to sit under.

This is why baseball is awesome. The off-the-field stuff can be just as great as the games themselves. Who knows why Pivetta suddenly decided to stay out in the rain, or why the A’s saw it as a challenge. It just happened! Between that and those makeshift tents, it’s so nice to see everyone have fun. Baseball is a game that takes itself so seriously, and everyone involved in the game bears some responsibility for that. (Players, managers, executives, owners, fans, writers, etc.) So when the fun pokes through, it’s worthwhile because it’s managed to survive the self-seriousness of this actual, literal game.

And speaking of fun…

J.P. Crawford is killing it right now. He made a kid’s dream come true, and he’s got a six-game hitting streak. Oh, and he was instrumental in the Phillies scoring the go-ahead runs in the sixth inning.

Let’s back up a little. The Phillies, who had been down 2-0 after the rain delay, had managed to crawl their way back to even with one run each in the third and fourth. In the sixth inning, Crawford came up with two outs and the bases empty, and it looked like it was going to be a quick inning. He fouled off the first two pitches and found himself in an 0-2 hole. The next pitch came in, and he didn’t swing. It was a ball. And so were the next three after that. He was one pitch away from an inning ending strikeout, but Crawford’s patience paid off. He walked, and was on first base when Jorge Alfaro came up next jacked a ball into the seats. The two-run home run was a literal game-changer, as it put the Phillies ahead 4-2 and essentially sealed the game for them.

The bullpen was masterful. Five relievers — Yacksel Rios, Victor Arano, Hoby Milner, Edubray Ramos, and Luis Garcia — combined for five innings of no-hit ball. Literally no-hit ball. The Athletics didn’t get a hit from when the game started back up and the middle of the ninth inning, when Hector Neris allowed a solo home run. Victor Arano got the win (his first in the majors), and Neris got the save (despite the homer). And Milner’s got quite a little streak going.

I remember earlier this season when the bullpen was an absolute mess. And now we rarely talk about them because they’re so good. Which is the point — the bullpen is supposed to help maintain leads and stop the other team from scoring. If you hear a lot about a bullpen, it’s usually because they’re sucking.

Despite the hiccups this season, I like the approach the Phillies have taken to building their bullpen over the years. They have guys they like and they’ve given them time to grow while building around them. That takes faith and trust — trust in what they see from their pitchers, and trust in their evaluators. This front office is as advertised: they have a plan, and they’re sticking to it.

The Phillies scored one more run in the eighth inning, and without the benefit of a hit. Odubel Herrera walked, and then went from first to third on a throwing error, and scored on a sac fly.

The Phils wrap up interleague play today with their final game against the Athletics. Hopefully this will somehow prepare them for their four-game series against the Dodgers, which starts on Monday.

Oh good god.

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