7 bright spots from the Phillies' 2023 season

While the season ended on a low note for the Phillies, there were plenty of high points during 2023.
Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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Nick Castellanos sends John Kruk, fans on a roller coaster

Knowing it was likely the team would need to face the Atlanta Braves in the postseason, the Phillies were trying to close out their regular-season series against their division rivals on a positive note. Having already split the three-game series at 1-1, they headed into their Sept. 20 matchup looking to build momentum.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Atlanta was facing closer Craig Kimbrel. After a leadoff walk to Sean Murphy, Atlanta put Luke Williams in as a pinch-runner, and he quickly stole second base, putting the winning run in scoring position. Kimbrel struck out Michael Harris II on three pitches, but Williams stole third. With one out, Orlando Arcia was able to work out a seven-pitch at-bat. On the seventh pitch, he popped the ball into foul territory down the right field line.

The whiplash of emotions that followed was best summed up by Phillies legend John Kruk on the broadcast:

Instead of letting the ball fall foul, right fielder Nick Castellanos turned, got his feet set, made the catch and fired a perfect strike to home plate, nailing Williams at home plate and sending the game into extra innings.

After the game, manager Rob Thomson and teammates admitted that they were hoping the outfielder would let the ball drop foul. When speaking to Matt Gelb of The Athletic, though, Castellanos noted that he relied on the voice in his head: "Usually he just pops up when I'm hitting. You know? Like, don't take this 2-0 pitch."

He went on to add what the voice said to him on this play: "Catch it. Throw him out."

The Phillies went on to win 6-5 in 10 innings. As it turns out, this victory kick-started a seven-game winning streak during which the Phillies clinched a spot in the playoffs.