The Phillies have marched within two wins of the World Series — and there’s nothing routine about the way they’ve done it

PHILADELPHIA — There are brothers competing against each other in the National League Championship Series. You’ve probably heard about it. The Nola parents have become well-deserved media darlings as their sons, Austin of the San Diego Padres and Aaron of the Philadelphia Phillies, have advanced deeper into the postseason through several upset series to find themselves here: a pitcher and a catcher on the field. last two NL teams standing. It’s cute.

In the seventh inning of Game 3 of the NLCS, the infamous Phillies fans picked up on this family connection and saw an opportunity to stunt their opposition by taunting Austin Nola, “Aaron’s better” over and over again. new until it hit.

They are not wrongsay—I hope to exist in perpetual contrast to your greatest success, younger brother didn’t sour the experience of being a major league baseball player in the postseason – but the Padres made even the streak at one game apiece, scoring six off Aaron Nola on Wednesday at San Diego.

The thing is, that doesn’t matter at all to a fan base that’s a little wild by nature and rabid with anticipation. Eleven years without postseason baseball in Philly has given way to a team that frustrates as often as it delights, a team that got here on the precipice of a pennant by playing just two home games in practically a month. They ended the season on a 10-game road trip, snuck into a newly expanded postseason and haven’t had home field advantage since. They knocked off the NL Central winning Cardinals in a few games in St. Louis, won the division series at home against the Braves after splitting the first two in Atlanta and finally return home to Citizens Bank Park this weekend with the NLCS. tied at one game each after playing two on the west coast.

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So, yes, given the opportunity to gloat a little about their guys, Phillies fans took it.

And besides, they could say it worked.

That brought up Padres shortstop Ha-Seong Kim, who promptly hit a fly that sent veteran second baseman Jean Segura scrambling as he bounced into right field. You couldn’t call it a routine play, and even if you could, routine is exactly the kind of play the Phillies screw up all the time. This time, however, Segura caught the bouncing ball, jumped to his feet and threw to first to get the final out of the inning.

By that point, he had committed an error (one of two for the team on the night), successfully muffed another ground ball to reverse the second, hit a ball just inches off the ground to drive in the runs clearance and was lifted from first base. Now this? As the game went into commercial, the broadcast marveled that Segura’s “rollercoaster night” was continuing. He’s on top of the mountain right now.”

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 21: Jean Segura #2 of the Philadelphia Phillies after winning Game 3 of the NLCS between the San Diego Padres and the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Friday, October 21, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania .  (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 21: Jean Segura #2 of the Philadelphia Phillies after winning Game 3 of the NLCS between the San Diego Padres and the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Friday, October 21, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania . (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

After a rollercoaster season, the Phillies are nearing the top of the mountain. They were 21-29 at the end of May before starting June with a nine-game winning streak. They were under .500 for the last month of the season, but managed to finish the season just one game up on the Milwaukee Brewers for the final wild-card spot.

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And now, with their 4-2 win over the Padres on Friday night, they’re just two wins away from their first World Series appearance since 2009. That just happens to be just how many games they have at home this weekend, where they still haven’t they lost in the postseason.

“I’m not surprised, just because of the atmosphere,” first baseman Rhys Hoskins said after the game about a statistic he heard describing the Phillies’ historic playoff success in home games. “I think it’s 100 percent a factor, I probably felt it tonight.”

As intense as the 45,279 fans were before the game started, a home run from NL leadoff hitter Kyle Schwarber — the first Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove had given up in four games — sent the place into pandemonium. To say the Phillies never completely relinquished the lead from there makes it sound like the game was easy — or at least simple — when it wasn’t.

If you’ve been bored with the lack of action in 2022, punctuated by game-changing (and not-quite-game-changing) hits in the American League Championship Series, you’ll love the mess Friday made. night in south philly so thrilling. The Phillies and Padres have combined to put the ball in play 51 times in 69 plate appearances — that’s 51 opportunities to score with small ball, or stellar defense, or costly bobbles.

The Padres have had their fair share of each, but I bet their fans aren’t holding their breath every time a ball goes near one of their players. Will they prove they belong on this stage alongside the other potential champions, or will they justify the season-long slumps in how their power-centric lineup falters when the moment calls for precision?

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The Phillies, apparently, contain crowds, managing to do both in the span of one game. That’s probably why they spend so much time stressing the importance of moving on from mistakes.

“We talked about this; whenever something goes wrong, we can get frustrated about it, but it ends right there,” said Schwarber, who is playing in his seventh postseason with his third different team. “I feel like I did a really good job this season last season.”

The Phillies aren’t bad at all — they have the fourth-highest payroll, with only New York and Los Angeles spending more than them this season — but they play like it. Maybe they infiltrate the blue-collar clubhouse with pride and even more belligerent pride about their sports town. Or maybe it’s because winning is fun and the wait can just make you happy to be here, or make you hungry for more.

When the playoffs began, the Phillies had the top two players with the most regular season games played without a postseason appearance: JT Realmuto at 1,005 and Segura at 1,328.

Regardless, they’ve already relinquished that distinction, overperformed in the postseason, and lived under whatever mistakes they made in the summer. Last year, the 87-win team wouldn’t even play past 162. So maybe it’s a chip on their shoulder, or maybe it’s just the chance they needed.

“I’ve been waiting 11 years for this opportunity, I’m not going back,” Segura said. “I will do everything I can to continue to grow, help the ball club and bring something positive every day. I’ve waited too many years for this opportunity and I don’t want to let it pass.”

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