Unlikely extra-innings hero rescues Phillies with first career walk-off

The Phillies' big hit came from a surprising player only in the game after a pinch-running assignment.
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Cristian Pache celebrates after hitting the game-winning, walk-off single on Monday night
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Cristian Pache celebrates after hitting the game-winning, walk-off single on Monday night / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies certainly made things interesting on Monday night. It looked for a while like they might spoil an absolute gem from Aaron Nola against the lowly Colorado Rockies, as they couldn't muster enough offense to break a 1-1 tie after the fifth inning.

But enter the latest Phillies walk-off hero, and an unlikely one at that. Cristian Pache was in the game only because manager Rob Thomson chose to pinch-run for Kyle Schwarber, who had walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch in the eighth.

Extra-innings hero Cristian Pache wins it with his first career walk-off

Regardless of how he got there, Pache came up in the 10th with two out and saw one pitch — a 97 mph sinker from Jake Bird, which he promptly smacked into right field. Bryson Stott trotted home from third to secure the Phillies' second walk-off win in three days.

It was only Pache's ninth plate appearance of the season. His second hit of the young campaign, which turned into his first career walk-off, was undoubtedly a big one for a Phillies team floundering at the .500 mark.

“You see them coming, and you know they want to celebrate in all kinds of ways,” Pache said after the game, per MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. “It was extremely exciting for me to have been there.”

Phillies avoid wasting another strong pitching performance

The exciting extra-innings walk-off sent the Citizens Bank Park crowd of 35,496 home happy. It also salvaged what might have been another demoralizing outcome after Nola dominated the overmatched Rockies for 7 1/3 innings of one-run, four-hit ball, striking out nine along the way. His lone blemish on the night was a Michael Toglia solo home run.

Pache's heroics were made possible only after reliever Jeff Hoffman tackled Rockies pitcher Kyle Freeland at home plate to preserve the 1-1 tie in the ninth inning. Yes, you read that right. Rockies starting pitcher Kyle Freeland was inserted as a pinch-runner, thanks to the Rockies' short bench.

"I wish baseball was more of a contact sport," Hoffman joked with the media postgame. "It was a crazy play for two pitchers to be involved in. I already talked to Kyle [Freeland]. He's alright, so that's good to know ... I just tried to slap the tag on him as quick as I could. We both got there at the same time."

On a night when the Phillies' bats were quiet, again, managing just six hits and one extra-base hit — a Trea Turner double that led to the first Phillies run — the pitching held the opposition down long enough for the home team to get a clutch walk-off hit from the unlikeliest of places.

Thank you Cristian Pache.