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Big Jeff Hoffman makes a game-saving tag, Pache’s preparation pays off with a walk-off win

Big Jeff Hoffman makes a game-saving tag, Pache’s preparation pays off and the walk-off win originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Jeff Hoffman has the build of a linebacker and a pitcher, and that mattered Monday night.

With two outs and runners on the corners in the top of the ninth inning of a tied game, Hoffman threw a bouncing slider to Elehuris Montero who avoided JT Realmuto’s glove for a wild pitch.

The Rockies were down three players on their bench – Brendan Rodgers and Jake Cave were sick, Kris Bryant has a bad back – so the pinch-runner at third base was starting pitcher Kyle Freeland. Realmuto quickly recovered the wild pitch and turned to Hoffman, who slid to home plate at the same time as Freeland for a game-saving tag. Freeland beat Hoffman at the plate, but his foot came up during his slide and the replay didn’t show enough to overturn the on-field umpires’ ruling of an out.

“I wish baseball was more of a contact sport,” Hoffman said after the game.

“That was a crazy play involving two pitchers. I already talked to Kyle, he’s doing well, so that’s good to know. Honestly, get there early because I knew JT would take the opportunity.” to turn it around.” towards me and he threw it in the perfect spot for me. I slapped the tag on him as quickly as I could. We both got there at the same time. It was crazy.”

“Option quarterback, all-state,” manager Rob Thomson joked, referring to Realmuto’s high school days.

The Phillies’ largely invisible offense couldn’t get through in the bottom of the ninth after Hoffman’s play, but finally did in the 10th, with Whit Merrifield sacrificing the auto-runner to third base and Cristian Pache delivering the walk-off single in the 10th. a 2-1 win.

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Pache was only in the game because he made a pinch-run for Kyle Schwarber after the leadoff man led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk. Pache connected on a sinker on Rockies reliever Jake Bird’s first pitch and smoked it through the gap between first and second base, then celebrated with his teammates.

“It’s extremely exciting for me because I don’t play much, but I try to stay ready in the cage so that I can take the opportunity when it’s given to me,” Pache said through team interpreter Diego D’Aniello.

“I was in the cage hitting and we set up the machine so that the sinker was thrown in a situation where we could try to see it and be aggressive during the at-bat. Luckily we got just that and pointed the barrel towards the ball.”

It produced a winning pitch from Seranthony Dominguez, who retired all three batters he faced in the 10th with the go-ahead run in scoring position.

The 9-8 Phillies have been promoted through their first six series. They’ve scored more than five runs once, on the night Bryce Harper hit three home runs, and have been held to three runs or less eight times.

Through 17 games, the Phillies managed just 30 extra-base hits, the fewest in all of Major League Baseball. Last season they had 63 games during that many games.

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Thomson continues to say the team is built to slug and he knows it will happen, citing reasons like the backs of their baseball cards and the law of averages. It’s hard to believe that the lineup will remain this quiet, but you have to wonder if certain aspects of it have gotten old. Right now, there is no defining trait or characteristic for this offense – no strength, plate selection or bat-to-ball skills.

On the other side of the coin, the Phillies are above .500 despite the offense’s invisibility thus far. In previous years, with a smaller pitching staff, this team could be closer to 6-11 than 9-8.

“All year long you have to win all kinds of games,” said Bryson Stott, who singled twice, walked and stole a base. “You’ve got to win blowouts, you’ve got to win close games, so I think it’s big.”

Aaron Nola, finally pitching without rain, wind, frigid temperatures or all of the above, made his best start of the early season, dominating the Rockies by one run over 7⅓ innings with nine strikeouts and just one walk, to the penultimate batter that he faced.

Nola’s curveball was fantastic and when he drives it like he did Monday, it can be as overwhelming as a mid-90s fastball. All twelve swinging strikes he generated came on the hook.

Nola’s first start was at home on March 30, a day later than expected due to a rain shower, and started with a 27-minute delay.

His second start came six nights later in Washington, D.C. and the temperature dropped to 42 degrees in the middle of the innings.

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His third start was the most miserable of all, a two-hour slog on a rainy afternoon last Wednesday in St. Louis. The rain was so steady that Nola had to adjust his stance and shorten the stride with his front leg to avoid slipping and losing control. The result was a fastball with an average velocity of just 90.5 mph, nearly three mph less than the Braves game.

“I hope it’s about 75 and sunny (for Nola’s next start),” Realmuto said that afternoon, almost speaking it into existence.

From the first inning Monday night, you could tell Nola had better, sharper stuff. His fastball sat 92-93, right in line with his career standards. He maintained that pace into the eighth inning, striking out five of the last six batters he faced.

The Phillies’ pitching staff has a 3.68 ERA this season, third best in the Majors. The starters have a 2.95 ERA and in the bullpen, Jose Alvarado, Hoffman, Gregory Soto, Matt Strahm and Yunior Marte are all off to promising starts.

“I think there will be a lot of guys picking each other up as the season goes on,” Hoffman said. “Right now you could say the pitchers are doing that for the offense, and we could look to the future in a month and the hitters can carry the pitchers. Marathon season. We’re just rolling with the waves. At the end of the day, hopefully we take care of each other well enough to win a lot of ball games.

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