Brandon Marsh helps Phillies end Braves' season with clutch home run off of Charlie Morton
'Who would have thought it?' — Brandon Marsh's special moment helps Phils advance originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
This all would have been pretty hard to believe a couple of weeks ago, a couple of months ago.
The Phillies making the playoffs?
The Phillies advancing multiple rounds?
The Phillies sending the reigning champs home?
The center fielder coming up with the biggest hit in a clincher?
"That was a special moment," Brandon Marsh said a few hours after hitting a three-run home run out of the nine-hole to put the Phils ahead early and for good in their Game 4 win over the Braves.
"I don't think I've ever had a moment like that in my career so I'm going to cherish that one. Looking up at the crowd, that was a good feeling. I think the last 24 hours show what we're made of."
The Phils won 8-3 to end Atlanta’s season. The Braves and Mets each won 101 games, but it’s the 87-win Phillies standing as the last team from the NL East.
They're moving on to the NLCS after winning a second straight series as the underdog.
"Who would have thought it, right?" Bryce Harper said. "That around the All-Star break we'd get Brandon Marsh and he'd hit a three-run shot in the playoffs? It's incredible, it's incredible."
In the decade the Phillies missed the playoffs from 2012-22, they went through a slew of center fielders and none stuck. There was Ben Revere, Aaron Altherr, Scott Kingery, Odubel Herrera, some Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis and a host of others.
Center field was still a hole for the Phillies coming out of spring training this year and remained their weakest spot until president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski acquired Marsh from the Angels in a deadline deal. The Phils traded promising 22-year-old catcher Logan O'Hoppe to Los Angeles for Marsh, a 24-year-old center fielder who'd already established himself as an above-average defender but hadn't hit much at the big-league level.
Dombrowski spoke after the trade about Marsh's untapped offensive potential. Marsh had produced offensively in the minors and is still an ascending player growing into himself.
In 138 plate appearances with the Phils after the deadline, Marsh hit .288 with a .773 OPS.
In their first playoff game in St. Louis, his ninth-inning RBI single extended the six-run rally that started this crazy week of Phillies baseball.
And on Saturday afternoon, in front of 45,660 rowdy fans, Marsh lofted a three-run homer to right field that not only gave the Phillies a comfortable early lead but also reestablished their momentum over the Braves.
"I couldn’t be more blessed and honored to be part of this," said starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who was traded to the Phillies from the Angels the same day as Marsh but in a different deal.
"I’m excited for Marshy too, we came over here together and were excited to play in a pennant race. I’ll be a free agent, but he’ll be here a while and Philadelphia should be excited about him."
Marsh's three-run homer off of veteran Braves right-hander Charlie Morton wasn't a sigh of relief for the jubilant crowd. It was the beginning of another three-hour fiesta. On Friday, the party started in the third inning. On Saturday, it was the second.
Marsh, who received a curtain call after the inning, realized quickly after switching coasts this summer just how starved Philadelphia was for winning baseball.
"First day being here," he said. "I saw how into it the crowd was and I know how bad they want it, just as bad as we want it. We're all doing our best to play in front of a great city. Just keep showing out and keep helping us out."
So many Phillies have already had their moment this postseason.
Harper went 8 for 16 in the NLDS with three homers and two doubles.
Rhys Hoskins hit the dramatic three-run shot in Game 3.
J.T. Realmuto hit an inside-the-park home run Saturday, the first catcher ever to do so in a playoff game.
Nick Castellanos drove in five runs in the four games against Atlanta.
Jean Segura had three hits Saturday and is batting .389 in the playoffs.
Bryson Stott doubled in the Phils' first run in Game 3 to start a six-run rally.
And the pitching has been outstanding. In the two wins at Citizens Bank Park this weekend, Phillies pitchers allowed four runs and 12 baserunners in 18 innings with 25 strikeouts.
"You can go on and on about each guy, but we're all a team, we're all a group," Harper said. "We know that if one guy doesn't get it done, the next guy will, just like this guy today (Marsh).
"The rookies that we have, the things they're doing in this game, from Bryson Stott to him to (Matt Vierling). We call them our daycare and they carry us too. It takes nine guys on the field to win each day and I'm just so excited to be part of this opportunity and this team."
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