HOUSTON — The Phillies wanted another beer together, another chat.
It was no surprise to see this unusually tight group put together one last hang before returning to Philadelphia, where they’ll empty their lockers early next week and across the country for the offseason. And will be scattered elsewhere. This team took Philadelphia on an absolutely wild and completely unexpected ride last month. They didn’t want to leave.
That Wheeler could appreciate the ride in that moment said it all. Because for a moment, it looked like the Phillies might force a Game 7, after Schwarber’s solo home run in the sixth inning. But Phillies manager Rob Thompson pulled Wheeler from the game with runners on the corners and one out for Jose Alvarado in the bottom of the sixth.
“It caught me off guard,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler had dominated by this point.
“Bolts of electricity were coming out of his hands today,” said JT Realmoto.
Alvarado allowed a three-run home run to Yarden Alvarez, who crushed the ball over the batter’s eye in center field.
The pitching change will be debated and dissected for probably as long as anyone alive who saw it can remember. But Philadelphia had just three hits in Game 6, and just nine in the final three games of the series, all of which the Phillies lost. But in the clubhouse afterward, players found ways to reflect on the season.
He brought baseball back to Philly. They were the last team to clinch a postseason berth on October 3, when they clinched the third NL wild card spot. They entered the postseason as an 87-win team that no one expected to reach the World Series.
The Phillies got great pitching performances from Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Ranger Suarez on that run. The bullpen pitched very well.
Thompson pushed the right buttons almost all the way through.
Citizens Bank Park was loud, like setting the pitchcom to 20 and covering your ears on the infield.
“I knew Philly was a really good sports town coming in, but to experience it, it’s a whole different animal,” Wheeler said. “The fans, they love their games. They’re behind us 100 percent. They tell us when we do bad, and that’s fine. When that happens, we have to pick it up, but I’m the fans. Love and it was so much fun to go on this ride with them.
Whenever the Phillies won, Callum Scott’s “Dancing on My Own” played. First, in the clubhouse. Then, over the sound system in the bank.
It became the team’s anthem.
“We proved a lot of people wrong,” Zach Eflin said. “We have a lot to be proud of. But at the same time, it’s futile. We just saw the Astros celebrate and do what we wanted to do. We just saw people living their dreams. .
“It hurts,” Nola said. “I know it’s probably going to hurt even more tomorrow. I think the chemistry and the friendship carried us through the end. I think it’s been overlooked today. Everyone in this clubhouse loves each other. pulls for. There’s not one selfish guy on this team, and I think that says a lot about this club. Everybody got their feet wet. Everybody knows what the postseason is now. It’s addictive. It’s a different kind of atmosphere. It’s a different kind of winning. Because when you win, it’s purest.
Thompson asked Realmuto after each round how many more wins the Phillies needed to win the World Series.
It dropped to 11, then eight, then four.
“We didn’t finish it,” Harper said. “We didn’t finish it. It doesn’t matter if you’re an 87-win team or a 100-win team. It doesn’t matter. We didn’t do it.”
But the Phillies believe this is just the beginning. Not everyone will return next season. But there will be many of them. Maybe with some tweaks to the roster, they can get the job done.
“Now there’s flavor,” Schwarber said. “It’s a positive thing. It’s going to be a quick offseason now. Everybody’s going to have that taste in their mouths and know what it takes to do it. So it’s going to be fun.”