The skies opened, the game was delayed for 22 minutes before the ninth inning began, and what followed was a dramatic swing of emotions for the Phillies.
Leading 6-5, the Phillies turned to Hector Neris, who blew another save against the Dodgers. Neris has allowed 10 runs and six homers in his last seven appearances against the Dodgers, including the go-ahead three-run shot to pinch-hitter Matt Beaty Tuesday night.
But the Phillies, who have played poorly and sloppily for the better part of six weeks and were embarrassed, 16-2, on Monday, found a way back against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. They scored three of their own in the ninth to win it, 9-8. The rally was capped off by Bryce Harper's walk-off two-run double.
A wild finish to a game that probably didn't need to be this difficult for the Phils.
The Phillies scored six runs in the first two innings on three home runs off Walker Buehler, including a three-run shot from Harper that traveled 458 feet and nearly broke the sound barrier. It was on a 98 mph fastball.
But the Phillies then went 0 for 18 from the third through eighth innings.
Neris' implosion followed stellar work from three previous relievers — Jose Alvarez, Juan Nicasio and Adam Morgan — who retired all 10 batters they faced.
The Phillies are 49-46 and continue to cling to the NL's second wild-card spot.
A well-deserved postgame cool down for Harper. pic.twitter.com/rx7vp45WqT— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) July 17, 2019
The typical Velasquez experience
Velasquez is what he is. A pitcher who can miss bats and strike hitters out, who can look totally dominant for two or three innings but who too rarely puts it all together for five or six complete innings.
There's no more guessing. Calling him enigmatic is being kind. He is infrequently effective.
On Tuesday, Velasquez looked great for three innings, striking out six Dodgers, including three in a row in emphatic fashion after the Phillies' five-run third inning.
But with a five-run lead, Velasquez could not keep L.A. at bay. The game was broken open for all of two innings before Velasquez was taken deep by Cody Bellinger, A.J. Pollock and Joc Pederson. He allowed four home runs in all. The first was a 440-foot shot from Max Muncy on an 0-2 pitch.
Velasquez has made 11 starts this season. In them, he is 1-4 with a 4.97 ERA. He's allowed 17 home runs in 61 innings. That's 2.5 home runs per nine innings for the man who entered 2019 with the highest home run rate of any starting pitcher in Phillies history.
Same story, over and over and over again. The Phillies have known for months that Velasquez is not the answer as the fifth starter. They feel they lack better internal options and have not been able to swing a trade yet. It's almost impossible to imagine Velasquez being in this rotation on Aug. 1.
Neris is 0-3 with a 8.48 ERA in his career against L.A.
Beyond that, Neris has really struggled of late. He's allowed 12 runs in his last 11 innings as his season ERA has risen from 1.88 to 4.08. This team has few places to turn for relief.
The Phillies lost Jay Bruce in the third inning to an oblique strain. He exited with an 0-2 count.
If Bruce misses time, here are the Phillies' two most logical options in replacing him (see story).
Wednesday night at 7:05 — Nick Pivetta (4-4, 5.81) vs. Kenta Maeda (7-6, 3.82)
Thursday afternoon at 12:35 — Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.63) vs. Ross Stripling (4-3, 3.65).
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