PHILADELPHIA — They turned out, as usual, in droves. Reborn Phillies fans flocking to a sold-out Citizens Bank Park, replete in expensive fan garb and waving free red rally towels.
Not that there’s anything new about that anymore.
“It’s got to be the atmosphere and the adrenaline going,” winning pitcher Zack Wheeler said Tuesday night after pitching the Phillies to a 4-1 victory over the Miami Marlins in their NL Wild Card opener. “As soon as I step foot out of the dugout to go stretch out there in the bullpen, the crowd went nuts, and I got chills.”
So, too, the Phillies figured, did the Marlins. For a team accustomed to playing to droves of empty seats – the Marlins made the playoffs while averaging a National League-low 14,355 fans – the noise that greeted them at the start of Tuesday’s game had to have some impact.
“The crowd was into it,” Miami manager Skip Schumaker said, “no doubt about it.”
But he added that he didn’t think his players were put off by the 45,662 (and thensome) packed into the park, noting, “This is the playoffs, it’s going to be loud wherever you go.”
(Well, maybe not Miami).
“It was electric,” said experienced playoff participant Trea Turner, who was in the postseason three times with the Nationals and the past two years with the Dodgers. “It was a lot of fun. From the start, I think, intros is pretty funny. I laugh at just the energy and watching the other team kind of have to deal with it. It’s always kind of fun.
“But they were good,” Turner added about the fans. “They were good all game from the first inning; on their feet every two strikes. It was fun to be a part of.”
After a 10-season absence from the playoffs, most of these same Phillies took their fans on a very unexpected playoff ride to the World Series last year. It was new for team veterans like Rhys Hoskins and Aaron Nola, who will start Game 2 Wednesday night here, and likewise to what became a newfound Phillies fan base that seemed to grow in number as the 2022 season wore on.
Majority owner John Middleton doesn’t seem inclined to let that fanbase slide again. There he was after Game 1 of this series, standing on top of a dugout and tossing baseballs to fans out of a bag he was carrying. Then he spent more time autographing many of them.
Kind of like the way he’s signed so many big checks the past couple of years to keep star players like Wheeler here and bring others like Turner in.
“We think everyone’s here for a reason, and we all can contribute,” Turner said. “We grind things out, whether it’s offensively or the pitching staff, whatever it may be.”
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While it’s true that every playoff crowd is going to pump up the volume, maybe there is something to the claims that the crowds of Citizens Bank Park seem to have an extra impact. After all, the Phillies are 23-11 in postseason games in this building. Per Elias, among all teams in major league history to play at least 30 postseason games at home, the Phils’ current .676 postseason winning percentage tops them all.
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Phillies third-base coach Dusty Wathan decided to hold up Kyle Schwarber in the first inning as he was about to rumble around third and head home in the first inning Tuesday. The ensuing throw from Jesus Sanchez was off-line, which would have made it easy for Schwarber to score. Later in the game, Wathan sent Nick Castellanos home, where he was tagged out.
And then Bryce Harper ran right through a Dusty stop sign and scored in the eighth inning. Harper would claim later that he didn’t see Wathan’s hands up.
“He’s just so aggressive, and he wants to win,” Rob Thomson said of Harper. “He wants to score. It’s not like I’d tell him, ‘hey, if somebody tells you not to run, go ahead and run if you want to.’ That’s not … we don’t do that. But he’s just so instinctive and so aggressive that sometimes he runs through stop signs.”
Source: Berkshire mont