One game in Baltimore was all the Phillies needed to move back into first place
Sandwiched between series in New York and Miami, the Phillies made a one-game stop in Baltimore on Thursday night. The game was closer than it should have been, but the Phillies came away with a 5-4 win, propelling them back into sole possession of first place in the National League East.
Midway through the game, this looked like it might be an easy win. The Phillies pieced together two runs in the third inning, and then Jorge Alfaro doubled home two more in the fourth. When Alfaro hit a home run in the sixth to put the Phillies up 5-0, it looked like the Phillies had things well under control.
Alfaro sends one out of the park to make it 5-0! pic.twitter.com/57rJjOgpCK
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) July 12, 2018
Starting pitcher Nick Pivetta – whose rotation spot was thought to be in jeopardy – was cruising along. He shut the Orioles out over the first five innings, and even when he allowed a run in the sixth, the game still seemed to be well in hand.
That high level of confidence lasted until there were two outs in the seventh inning. With a runner aboard, Jace Peterson launched a home run that drove Pivetta from the game. His replacement was Tommy Hunter who continued his recent trend of not being good.
Tommy Hunter’s allowed a run in 12 of his 35 appearances. He has a 4.80 ERA on the season. Last 11 innings, he’s allowed 8 runs, 2 homers and 22 baserunners.
— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) July 13, 2018
Hunter served up a home run to Trey Mancini, and the Phillies suddenly found themselves in a tight, one-run game.
It would have been nice if the Phillies answered back with some runs of their own. Instead, they seemed intent on hitting into double plays. The Orioles turned double plays in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, ensuring that the Phillies did not add to their run total.
Fortunately, the non-Tommy Hunter portion of the bullpen was up to the task. Edubray Ramos and Adam Morgan combined to keep the Orioles off the board in the eighth, and then Seranthony Dominguez finished it off with a clean ninth.
The win gave the Phillies a 4-0 sweep over the Orioles in 2018, and more importantly, put them back into first place. With three games against the National League worst Marlins coming up, they have a great opportunity to be leading the division entering the All-Star break.