After two rough outings, the Philadelphia Phillies are back on top in the National League Championship Series after beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-1 in Game 5 on Saturday night.
In a reversal of Game 4, the Phillies put together a complete game, using offense, stellar pitching and award-worthy defense to send the series back to Philadelphia on a high note. The fans were even treated to some postseason-history-making plays by the veterans on the team.
Behind three two-run innings and another dominant pitching performance — including two shutout innings from the bullpen — let's take a look at four players who showed up to make pivotal plays in Game 5 to give the Phillies two opportunities to clinch another trip to a World Series in front of their home crowd.
Bryce Harper steals home, makes Phillies postseason history
During Saturday's game, first baseman Bryce Harper flashed his glove in the field, making some nice defensive plays, while also going 2-for-4 at the plate, with a 444-foot solo home run in the top of the sixth on a 3-2 count with one out. That home run came after Kyle Schwarber made history of his own with his fifth home run of the series, 11th overall in this round of the postseason in his career.
But it was Harper's play in the first inning that hyped up fans and helped his team establish momentum for a game that felt like a must-win. With one run already on the board courtesy of an RBI single from second baseman Bryson Stott, the Phillies decided they'd steal another.
There's no doubt that Harper is aggressive on the bases on a normal day, and on Saturday, he was called upon to execute a double steal alongside Stott. And he didn't fail, getting into a collision with catcher Gabriel Moreno before touching home plate:
As Sarah Langs of MLB.com noted, it was the first time a Phillies player has stolen home in postseason history and 22nd overall across the league.
In the postgame press conference, manager Rob Thomson kept it simple when asked about Harper, saying, "He's as good as they get."
Following two deflating games that were lost in the late stages of Games 3 and 4, it was important for the Phillies to not let the Diamondbacks keep momentum heading into this game.
As catcher J.T. Realmuto noted, according to Tyler Kepner of The Athletic: "After what they did to us the last two games, they had all the momentum in the world. So we had to try to do something early in the game to get it back. That was a great call by Rob putting that on."
A 1-0 lead is nice, but a 2-0 lead is nicer. By executing the play to perfection and getting the second run across in the first inning, Harper also helped to take some more pressure off a pitching staff that had been tested and pushed to its limit the past couple of days.