On most nights, a five home run barrage would be history.
Not on this one, though.
Rhys Hoskins, Nick Castellanos and Darick Hall all went deep in the first set and JT Realmuto and Kyle Schwarber joined the power party later.
But Kyle Gibson stole the show on Friday night.
“He was great fun to catch,” Realmuto said. “It was the sharpest I’ve seen all season.”
Gibson flirted with a no-hitter as he led the Phillies to a 7-2 win over the lowly Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.
The 34-year-old right-hander pitched perfect baseball in six innings. He lost his bid for the perfect game when he hit Victor Robles with a pitch to start the seventh. He then gave up a hit to Luis Garcia to lose the no-hitter chance.
The evening was still quite special for Gibson. He tied a season high with eight innings pitched and allowed just two hits and one run. He walked one, struck out four and hit two batters as he fatigued late in the game.
Outstanding performance carried a little more meaning to Gibson. He missed his previous departure to attend the funeral of his grandmother, Von Gibson, who died at his Indiana home last week at the age of 84.
“She was a really special woman, very proud of all of her grandchildren,” Gibson said.
The pitcher added that he was inspired by his grandmother’s memory while pitching.
“Without a doubt,” he said.
Gibson’s gem and the Phillies’ spectacular display of power helped make the night the final reminder that these Phillies might have something special in the works. Since June 1, they are 37-19. (The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers are the only Major League teams with better records since then.) The Phils have gone from sinking ship to playoff contender and currently control the third and final wildcard spot in the NL.
Friday night’s victory was the Phillies’ ninth in their last 11 games and propelled them to a season-high 10 games over .500 at 58-48.
The Phils were 22-29 when Rob Thomson replaced Joe Girardi as manager on June 3. The first thing for Thomson to do was meet with the team and tell the players to just focus on hitting .500. Once they get there, the goal would be to get five games over .500, and once they get there, the goal would be to get 10 games over .500.
Now they are here.
And Thomson becomes a National League Coach of the Year nominee.
As acting skipper.
The Phillies have won 16 of their last 18 against the Nationals, dating back to July 2021. That includes eight wins in 10 meetings this season. The Phils still have nine more to play against the Nats this season and cleaning up against them would greatly help the Phils’ playoff chances. They haven’t been there for 10 years.
“We’re playing better baseball for longer stretches this season,” Realmuto said. “We feel like our best baseball is still ahead of us.”
Gibson received a lot of support early in the run when the Phils hit three first-inning homers against Washington starter Josiah Gray. Hoskins and Hall had solo shots and the resurgent Castellanos followed up a Realmuto hat-trick with a two-point shot, his second in three games. Realmuto hit a two-run homer in the third and Schwarber hit his NL-leading 34th in the seventh inning.
Adding to the run support, Gibson received stellar defense from third baseman Alec Bohm, who held up the no-hitter bid with a diving play and a throw through the diamond to finish the sixth.
After that play, it was time to get some no-hitter facts about the Phillies, just in case. The Phils have had 13 hits in franchise history. Cole Hamels had the last on July 25, 2015, his last start with the club.
Gibson admitted he started thinking about the possibility of throwing a no-hitter in the fourth inning.
“I don’t know how guys don’t think about that,” he said. “Once you make it the first time out of the order and you don’t allow a base runner in the fourth inning, I think about it.”
In the end, Gibson didn’t join the club unsuccessfully, but he certainly had a night to remember. After awarding the hit to Garcia in the seventh, he received a standing ovation from the crowd of 22,024.
“That was cool,” he said. “I appreciate the cheers on the seventh when I gave up the base hit. It’s always cool to have that kind of energy and the fans locked in like that.
Pitching on an extremely wet night, Gibson tired in the eighth, hit his second batter, and allowed his second hit and a sacrifice fly. He retired Robles to end the inning and hit his glove in triumph as he left the mound.
Brad Hand allowed a run in the ninth to wrap up the win.
Ranger Suarez and Patrick Corbin will pitch Saturday night in a southpaw battle.