It took the Phillies two tries to get it right, but they finally had their walk-off victory celebration on Tuesday night.
Or was it Wednesday morning?
Oh, what does it matter.
The Phillies opened a 10-game homestand with a wild win over the Miami Marlins. The Phils prevailed, 9-8, on an RBI double to left by rookie Nick Williams with two outs in the bottom of the 15th inning (see observations).
As Aaron Altherr (he reached on a one-out base hit) sprinted home with the winning run, Phillies players streamed out of the dugout to mob Williams, who had a three-hit night. His game-winning hit came just after midnight and it ended four hours and 57 minutes of baseball that wasn't always pretty.
The Phillies trailed, 7-2, after starter Nick Pivetta struggled, but they stormed back in the late innings. Rhys Hoskins smacked the first of his two home runs to help get the comeback started. The Phils scored three runs in the eighth, then tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning on a pinch-hit single by Hyun Soo Kim.
Actually, the Phillies thought they had won the game on Kim's hit in the ninth inning. The hit scored Williams with the tying run and Cesar Hernandez initially appeared to slide home with winning run. That set off a Phillies' celebration as players poured out of the dugout and mobbed Kim. He was doused with bubble gum and had his jersey torn off by jubilant teammates.
Turned out the celebration was premature. The Marlins challenged the initial safe call on the field and won. Hernandez was ruled out at the plate and Marlins rightfielder Giancarlo Stanton had his third assist of the night — one at second, one at third and one at home. The Phillies' celebration went for naught (forcing the grounds crew to scurry out and clean up the remnants) and the game moved on to extra innings.
Marcell Ozuna quickly put the Marlins ahead with a solo homer off Hector Neris in the top of the 10th and hard-throwing Miami right-hander Brian Ellington got the first two outs in the bottom of the inning.
The Marlins were one out away from a victory in 10 innings. All that stood in their way was Hoskins, and that's a pretty formidable roadblock lately. Hoskins, who has uncanny plate discipline for a rookie, worked the count to 2-0 and got the fastball he was looking for. It came in at 100 mph and left at 102 mph. It landed 413 feet away, over the centerfield wall, tying the game at 8-8.
For Hoskins, the home run felt good not only because it deadlocked the game. It also came against the same pitcher who hit him in the hand two weeks ago in Miami, knocking him from the lineup for a day.
What Hoskins is doing to baseballs is nuts. He did not hit his first home run until Aug. 14. He now has 16 and that's just five off Tommy Joseph's team lead of 21. With 18 games left, it's not out of the question that Hoskins could lead this team in home runs, and that's rather amazing considering he did not come up until Aug. 10.
"He's an alien," Williams said. "He's not human. That's not real. That's crazy. And I'm hitting behind him, too, and I'm just constantly watching him and I'm like, 'Oh, my God.' What he's doing is amazing. He plays hard. He's a smart player. And what he's doing, I just love watching and being a part of it."
Hoskins laughed when he heard that Williams had called him an alien.
"That guy is pretty good himself, too," Hoskins said. "So I guess we can be alien friends."
Since starting his big-league career 0 for 10 in his first three games, Hoskins is hitting .327 with a .449 on-base percentage and a .827 slugging percentage.
Williams has also been impressive. In 65 games in the majors, he's hitting .292 with 10 homers and 47 RBIs. Williams had a bit of a reputation for not hustling in the minors. But his work ethic and energy level have been outstanding in the majors. He competes every play. In fact, the whole team did Tuesday night. The bullpen picked up 10 innings and allowed just one run that made the comeback and the win possible.
"We battled," Williams said. "This says a lot, especially for a team in last place. We're constantly trying to compete each and every day. These guys are hungry and they want to show they deserve to be up here. Tonight just shows we fight and we compete.
"We had two walk-offs today. I think that was the first time in the history of baseball that's taken place. It was a two-celebration game. I'm just glad one of them counted."