Phillies vs. Nationals: Net collapses, Phils win series

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Phillies score 12 to win one of the weirdest games you'll see originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

This time, the other team collapsed in the field. And so did the netting behind home plate.

The Phillies came back from an early three-run deficit to win a series with a 12-6 victory over the Nationals.

It was a long, slow, strange game.

There was a delay in the first inning when home plate umpire Brian O'Nora was struck in the mask by a foul ball. He did not return and the game was played with three umpires.

There was a delay in the third inning when Nationals pitcher Austin Voth’s nose was broken by a 90 mph fastball from Vince Velasquez, a scary scene.

There was a delay in the eighth inning when the protective netting behind home plate and along the base lines fell down.

It was all hands on deck by the Phillies' grounds crew and the game resumed after a delay of just over 20 minutes.

“I was honestly in shock, I’ve never seen that happen before,” catcher J.T. Realmuto said. 

“I didn’t think there was any way we’d be able to continue with the game. I didn’t think they were gonna be able to get it back up in time so I thought the game was gonna get suspended. Great job by our crew.”

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"It just kind of startles you when the net falls on you. It was fine, the grounds crew did a really good job of getting the net back up," manager Joe Girardi said.

"Just something to add to the day, I guess. It was quite a long day (4 hours, 26 minutes) but it’s worth it when you win."

The key inning for the Phillies was the fourth. They scored seven runs thanks to timely hitting, patience at the plate and numerous mistakes by the Nationals on the mound and in the field.

With one out, Realmuto walked and Bryce Harper beat the shift with an infield single. Rhys Hoskins popped a ball up behind second base that was dropped by Jordy Mercer to load the bases. The next four Phillies reached on Andrew McCutchen’s RBI single, bases-loaded walks from Brad Miller and Alec Bohm, then a bad decision on a ground ball to third baseman Starlin Castro, who threw late to second for a fielder’s choice rather than run to the third-base bag for a forceout.

Another Phillies run scored on a wild pitch, and Odubel Herrera capped the rally with a two-out, two-run single.

In a season when the Phillies have made so many costly gaffes defensively, this was a glimpse of what it’s been like on the other side.

"Seven runs without really hitting a ball extremely hard," Girardi said. "Some really good at-bats. We did a lot of little things right in that inning. We took advantage of an error and we kept the line moving."

The Phils tacked on plenty of insurance on two homers — a two-run bomb by Miller to the second deck in right field and a three-run shot by Realmuto, the 100th of his career.

They needed some of that wiggle room because Brandon Kintzler gave up three runs in the sixth inning as his ERA rose to 8.50. An inning earlier, Archie Bradley walked the first two batters before navigating his way out of trouble. Bradley has been shaky as well, putting 18 men on base in 9⅓ innings this season.

The teams combined to use 12 pitchers. Hard-throwing lefty Cristopher Sanchez made his MLB debut in relief for the Phillies and retired all four batters he faced. Sanchez was on the mound when the net collapsed. He was called up earlier in the day when Chase Anderson and David Hale went on the COVID injured list. (After the game, Nick Maton was optioned to Triple A.)

Velasquez did not qualify for a win because he was pinch-hit for in the fourth inning, but he kept the game manageable. In a 30-pitch third inning, he hit the first two batters then allowed a run on back-to-back singles to Trea Turner and Juan Soto. But with the bases loaded and nobody out, Velasquez focused up to strike out Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber, escaping the inning when Castro popped out.

Velasquez was still shaken up and more concerned after the game with the pitch that broke the nose of his counterpart, Voth, referring to it as an incident that can be “traumatizing” for anyone involved. 

The Phillies are 28-30 after the series win. They are off Monday and Friday this week. They face the Braves at home Tuesday through Thursday and host the Yankees Saturday and Sunday.

Here is a closer look at the Phillies' pitching plans for the week ahead.

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