If you witnessed it, like me, you would think Citizens Bank Park was placed into an orb and sent to a parallel universe for their 1 pm EST game on Sunday. The Nationals visiting the Phillies had nothing short of a bizarre and odd ending to their series with the Phillies winning the wacky match. This game featured two players hit milestones, one net hit the field, and one umpire and one pitcher were both hit to end their day. Oh, and there was some ‘fan’ throwing silver confetti to distract players. It wasn’t paranormal, but it was spectacularly odd in the way baseball always is.
Shortly after start time, the chaos began. In the top half of the inning while the Nationals were batting, the first moment of many for a game to remember occurred. Home plate umpire Brian O’Nora took a foul off the bat of Josh Bell in the top of the first into his mask. By the bottom of the first, he was running down the Phillies’ dugout stairs, apparently, getting sick. No word has come following this, but he did not return with three umpires remaining in the game one between second and first leaning more towards first and the other second and third.
After a rather calm second inning, with no earthquakes or tornados, the top of the 3rd inning had a horrifying sequence of events. Vince Velaquez lost his control. First, he hit Victor Robles close to the face. The speedy outfielder took a base after having to regroup, and get checked on. With it being less than two outs, the starter for the Nationals Austin Voth came to the plate, planning to bunt as often happens in this situation.
Three things to discuss before we continue to what unfolded. Two controversies are entangled here, one pitcher batting and two substances on a baseball. The third thing is the fact that it was not even known who was starting for The Nationals until an hour before the first pitch.
Moving on, a 3-1 count against Velaquez ran inside as Voth was lining up his bunt attempt. At 90 mph, the fastball ran in on him with two-seam action as he hurriedly attempted to move out of the way. The baseball caught Voth square in the face and legitimately spun him around. The pitcher, shortly after, sat to the ground his face in his hands, and when trainers came, a towel was noticeably catching blood. Reasonably, Voth could not continue.
Following the game, it was announced that Voth is doing okay, but he has a broken nose that was said to be reset. This was a scary situation for all, but Bryce Harper was very distraught for good reason. He had just suffered a similar injury that followed two bouts of IL stints and extended periods of missed time.
Best wishes to O’Nora and Voth both in their recoveries. Of course, the show must go on. The craziness had just begun. After a two-run top of the 4th, the Phillies broke everything open. This inning was their first with a hit, but they didn’t have any, and none were really even squared up.
J.T Realmuto had a one-out walk from pitcher Sam Clay, who then sacrificed a single to Harper. Replacing Clay, Kyle Finnegan instantly allowed a base runner when Rhys Hoskins’s pop-up was dropped between Josh Bell, Juan Soto, and the glove of Jordy Mercer. With the bases now loaded, Andrew McCutchen’s soft line drive plated the first of seven runs on the innings.
Brad Miller and Alec Bohm walk back-to-back made it a tie game. A Ronald Torreyes ground ball to Starling Castro at third led to an awkward sequence of events. With the force out in play, he could have stepped on third base for the out. Instead, he threw it to second without beating Bohm there everybody was safe, and the runner scored. That runner, Andrew McCutchen, reached the first of two milestones on the day, scoring his career 1000th run.
Matt Joyce pinch hit for the pitcher and struck out, but on the third strike, it was dropped by catcher Alex Avila. When turning to throw the ball home, no one was covering the pitcher failing in doing his part on the play. With five runs now in on the inning, Odubel Herrera singled in the next two, and after the 11th and 12th batters of the inning walked and then grounded out, the seven-run escapade finally ended.
McCutchen would come to cross for 1001 the next inning on a two-run second deck homerun from Brad Miller. In the top half of the inning, the Nationals made it an interesting game for a short time being when they managed three runs off of Brandon Kintzler in the top of the 6th, bringing it to a 9-6 game. That lead suddenly doubled the Nationals total when J.T Realmuto came up in the bottom of the 6th and crushed a three run home run for his career 100th homer, the second milestone in just this game!
Following that half-inning, the green grass field was shimmering. Andrew McCutchen in left field, Herrera in Center looked back and waved off the source of this shining product. A fan from the third-row deck near center field was tossing silver confetti by the handfuls every second that he saw the opportunity to. For no good reason, the clearly David Bowie obsessed fan managed to get the confetti as far as just behind third base before either stopping or being escorted from the game.
Just when things couldn’t get crazier, in what was eventually a 4 hour, 26-minute game, 20 minutes of it were about to be taken up by something crashing down. Fans, coaches, and anyone near it was covered. The netting behind home plate had fallen, thanks to another foul ball this off the bat of Nationals star, Trea Turner. After finally realizing they couldn’t go on like this, the Philadelphia grounds crew worked beyond maximum effort to fix the issue.
Running quicker than some players, this grounds crew worked with the best efforts in 90-degree weather to solve the issue, eventually, getting the netting to an appropriate level without it fully fixed. Thankfully, no harm done the game continued.
Peace was finally among us as the game ended without any more history, chaos, or confusion to be had. Even the scoreboard was so distraught with the Phillies managing nine hits, but 12 runs, a hit less than the Nationals who only go down as committing one error. This game did feature a major league debut that of Christopher Sanchez.
Even for some games, just that in itself is pretty cool to watch, so just imagine the next time you’re at a baseball game and suddenly there’s one less umpire. Or maybe a personal record for a player is set. Even a guy throwing glitter or a seven-run inning is something to write home about. With the win, the Phillies are 3rd at 28-30 in a wide-open NL East. The Nationals fall to 24-32 and last place.