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NLCS: Bryce Harper Leads Phillies to World Series


PHILADELPHIA — The wind swept in, the skies went dark and the afternoon turned soggy, but nothing was going to face in the way in which of the party. Not Yu Darvish, not the San Diego Padres and their vaunted bullpen and positively not Mother Nature.

Bryce Harper made sure of it.

Authoring a postseason for the ages in his adopted hometown in his fourth season after signing a 13-year, $330 million deal, Harper smashed a two-run homer off the Padres right-handed reliever Robert Suarez with no outs within the eighth inning to send the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series.

Pointless to say, Harper, who went 8 for 20 with two home runs, including the go-ahead shot in Game 5, was named the most precious player of the N.L.C.S.

“Nearly as good because it gets,” Manager Rob Thomson said when asked how great Harper has been for the team. “I mean, he’s proved to me again and again and once more that there’s no moment that’s too big for him, and he’s come through so over and over. You only form of expect it when he goes to the plate.”

The 4-3 victory gave the Phillies the eighth National League pennant in franchise history on a wet, chilly afternoon. They’ll play either the Houston Astros or the Yankees within the 118th World Series, which is scheduled to start on Friday.

Harper’s homer got here with Josh Hader, the left-handed closer of the Padres, heating up within the bullpen. Hader would have been an option against the left-handed-hitting Harper, but Padres Manager Bob Melvin likely felt that asking for a six-out save could be an excessive amount of.

“It’s tough right away,” Melvin said shortly after the sport. “I mean, that one stings. We’ve been so good about putting games away late. Suarez has been unbelievable. I believe it’s the primary home run he’s given as much as a lefty all 12 months.”

Call it more home magic for the Phillies, who emphasized a message that has been constructing over time: Don’t mess with them in October at Residents Bank Park.

This month, with their very own Murderers’ Row of Kyle Schwarber, Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, Harper and Nick Castellanos and behind starters Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola and the ace relievers Seranthony Domínguez and José Alvarado, the Phillies took the most effective shots from San Diego and Atlanta and barely flinched.

They’re 5-0 at home this postseason. And so they are actually 21-9 overall in playoff games of their current stadium, which opened in 2004. Since Oct. 3, 2007, the day of the primary postseason game in Residents Bank Park, the Phillies’ .700 winning percentage is best within the majors, ahead of Houston’s home winning percentage in Minute Maid Park (.651), Boston’s at Fenway Park (.649), San Francisco’s at Oracle Park (.643) and Los Angeles’s in Dodger Stadium (.623).

In fact, that’s about to be sternly tested when the World Series begins. The Astros entered Game 4 of their American League Championship Series in Recent York on Sunday evening still unbeaten for the postseason.

There was no considered that, nevertheless, because the Phillies, the last team of six within the N.L. to earn a playoff spot this season, celebrated within the late afternoon chill.

The immediate reasons that sent them into their celebration were familiar. Harper. Hoskins, who crushed his third two-run homer in two games within the third inning. And the right-hander Wheeler, who again kept the Padres in check.

It was Hoskins who sent the Phillies to a 2-0 lead within the third inning. But Juan Soto, who has been disappointing for the reason that Padres acquired him from Washington in a trade on Aug. 2, blasted his second homer in two nights with one out within the fourth to trim the Phillies’ result in 2-1. It was a 96-mile-per-hour fastball from Wheeler, and the left-handed-hitting Soto drove it 439 feet over the center-field fence.

The homer briefly signaled that perhaps San Diego could work out Wheeler. The run broke Wheeler’s streak of throwing 28⅔ consecutive scoreless innings against the Padres, combining regular season and postseason, going back to July 24, 2018. It ranked because the longest current streak within the majors by a starting pitcher against a single opponent.

Already facing elimination and knowing they needed not just one win to send the series back to San Diego but three consecutive wins to achieve their first World Series since 1998, the Padres knew it was a tall task.

“We’re going to need to hit his fastball in some unspecified time in the future, right?” Melvin said before the sport.

Melvin identified that in Wheeler’s Game 1 dominance (seven shutout innings), Wheeler used his fastball early, and when he read the Padres’ plan to be aggressive against it, he adapted to make use of more breaking stuff because the game went along.

“Now we have a good idea how he’s going to attack us based on he had success, and also you wouldn’t think he’d alter that,” Melvin said.

The plan was to make Wheeler work, make him get the ball down within the strike zone after which, as Melvin said, “hopefully hit some fastballs.”

There seemed to be a temporary opening when Jake Cronenworth’s leadoff single within the seventh drove Wheeler from the sport. Domínguez, apparently having difficulty with the rain, threw three wild pitches within the inning, which sent the Padres to a 3-2 lead.

However the Phillies got just what they needed within the eighth inning when Harper’s turn to bat got here around. Robert Suarez threw him a 98 m.p.h. sinker that stayed belt high and over the plate. Harper reached out and belted it the alternative way, over the left-field wall, and all of Philadelphia looked as if it would erupt. When the left-hander Ranger Suárez closed out the ultimate two outs of the ninth inning, the Phillies were going to the World Series.

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