Miami – A few days ago, when the blessed Phillies caught another wave of emotion, they started a new celebration for each strikeout. “I can’t tell you about our celebrations,” backup catch and lead entertainer Garrett Stubbs said Friday afternoon. Someone knows how it started. Nobody wants to take credit. He’s stupid and funny and he’s a Phillies. Some in the club didn’t know what it was and why they were doing it, but they had an idea. The gesture is suggestive enough to be inferred without knowing Its origins are from “Major League II. “
“how do you spell it?” asked the Phillies player after winning their 13th consecutive road game—a game he shouldn’t have won. Gobo. Some hitters show up more than others when, uh, they juggle fantasy balls… In the film, he challenges teammate Pedro Serrano’s fortitude during a slump. He takes it personally. He asks his manager to pinch hit in the ninth inning, and on the first pitch, Cerrano hits a game-winning homer. He turns to his hiding place. He does the dance.
Christian Bach is a 24-year-old former prospect who was sidelined by MLB’s worst pre-season team. He was, prior to 2023, one of the worst hitters in modern baseball. He’s an elite player, so keep playing. That’s why the Phillies acquired it the day before opening.
Patchi had batted nine times in the last 14 days. It’s been almost a week since he last took the bat. But he hit the ninth inning on Friday night with two outs and a tying run on second base. He took the first pitch. Then he smashed the slider to deep center. Patch raised his right arm as the ball scraped the center field wall. Several teammates jumped onto the field.
Phillies 4, Marlins 3. Eighty-seven games into the season, the defining moment has arrived. Taste it patch.
“Nobody’s going to stop him,” said Alec Baum. “I feel like that’s what helps players perform at their best, right? If you’re comfortable with showing up, being yourself, and not trying to act a certain way or do certain things. Just be you. I feel like that’s definitely something that helped me and perform a lot of Young people here.”
When Patch floated toward third base, he did. “Unbelievable,” said Dusty Wathan, third base coach and Patchi’s closest associate. He danced big balls more emphatically than any Phillies have ever done.
“I knew I had it really good,” Patch said through a translator to the team. “It was a real man who hit that ball.”
You will never feel like I did last October because this is the way it is. For months, the Phillies have talked about resisting comparisons to 2022. Another slow start didn’t guarantee a summer pick-up. Then they bowed to her. They started playing “Dancing on My Country” again in the club after the win.
Phillies are 23-7 in their last 30 games. The 2022 Phillies have not had 30 games this good. Those Phillies have done it without a single Bryce Harper homer in 43 days. They’ve played better in the last 30 games than in a long time. The bullpen is elite—it hasn’t allowed a run in 25 1/3 innings in a row—and has been the team’s most consistent unit all season. The Phillies, not just Harper, failed to gain power, and on many nights, they sleepwalked.
It doesn’t matter.
“It feels good,” said Zach Wheeler. “Just ride it. Ride it as long as we can in the (All-Star) break, and hopefully we can keep it going after that. We play good baseball.”
“It definitely reminds us to keep playing,” Bohm said. “We can get hot for one role and make a difference in the game. A win sure lifts the spirits. We get some wins together and that definitely boosts morale. The guys are excited to show up every day. We have fun.”
So, here is the patch. He spoke earlier in the season about how welcome he felt within the Phillies club. He then tore the meniscus in his right knee and went on the injured list before returning as a reserve. He has some flair, but when you’re not playing and don’t have a track record of success, it can seem inappropriate to show it.
“He’s starting to open up a lot more,” said Baum. “It was quiet at first.”
While the Phillies were at Tropicana Field to play Ray, Batch made a bold prediction.
“I told the boys that when I hit the ball out of the park in Miami, I was going to jump in and have fun,” Patch said. “And then on my first hit, I really hit it out of the park. I just wanted to jump in because it looks hot.”
Brandon Marsh, who was pinch hit by Patch, heard the answer. He laughed, then went on to tell the other teammates what Patch had just said. Everyone laughed.
But there was real work being done. Patch was a teammate with AJ Puk, the Marlins’ closer, last season in Oakland. He knew him a little. In the seventh inning, the Phillies coach told Batch to get ready for Buck. “Before that time, I went to the cage to get ready and I watched some videos, and I saw how he (Buck) was hitting right-handed hitters,” Patch said. He wanted to stay inside the ball and try to hit it to right center field.
He hit it 397 feet to right center.
“Honestly, I’m going to identify myself as still a hitter,” Patch said. “I have (Phillies hitting coach) Kevin Long by my side, which is great because I get to work with him every day. Super, so happy to be here.”
The Phillies are glad they jumped at the chance. They won the trade with A no matter what happens next. “It’s been an amazing ride from our front office,” Phillies manager Rob Thompson said. “It really was.” Somehow, each person the Phillies bring to their eccentric club finds a suitable way. Some embrace chaos. Others encourage him. Few of them are satisfied spectators.
And there is Patchi. A real man hit that ball and danced to prove it.
One of them said Philly, “I love, ’cause he did it to round third base.”
(Top photo: Jim Rasul/USA Today)
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