Phillies down Astros for 1st playoff berth since 2011

Oct 3, 2022, 8:18 AM | Updated: 10:11 pm
Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Schwarber, right, and Rhys Hoskins celebrate after the Phillies won a b...

Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Schwarber, right, and Rhys Hoskins celebrate after the Phillies won a baseball game against the Houston Astros to clinch a wild-card playoff spot, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

              Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Schwarber, right, and Rhys Hoskins celebrate after the Phillies won a baseball game against the Houston Astros to clinch a wild-card playoff spot, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
            
              Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Schwarber celebrates after the Phillies won a baseball game against the Houston Astros to clinch a wild-card playoff spot, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
            
              Philadelphia Phillies players celebrate after clinching a wild card playoff berth with a 3-0 win over the Houston Astros, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Houston. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)
            
              Philadelphia Phillies players pose for a team photo as they celebrate after clinching a wild card playoff berth with a 3-0 win over the Houston Astros, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Houston. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)
            
              Philadelphia Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson celebrates after the Phillies won a baseball game against the Houston Astros to clinch a wild-card playoff spot, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
            
              Philadelphia Phillies' Brandon Marsh celebrates after the Phillies won a baseball game against the Houston Astros to clinch a wild-card playoff spot, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
            
              Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Schwarber, center, celebrates with teammates after the Phillies won a baseball game against the Houston Astros to clinch a wild-card playoff spot, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
            
              Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. throws against the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
            
              Philadelphia Phillies' Bryson Stott (5) celebrates with Kyle Schwarber after hitting a home run against the Houston Astros during the eighth inning of a baseball game Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
            
              Philadelphia Phillies' Bryson Stott (5) celebrates with third base coach Dusty Wathan (62) after hitting a home run against the Houston Astros during the eighth inning of a baseball game Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
            
              Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Schwarber (12) celebrates after hitting a home run against the Houston Astros during the eighth inning of a baseball game Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
            
              Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola throws against the Houston Astros during the fifth inning of a baseball game Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON (AP) — When the Philadelphia Phillies fired manager Joe Girardi after a 22-29 start to the season, it was hard to imagine that Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber and interim manager Rob Thomson would be dancing in a champagne shower come October.

But this team persevered through the tough start and an injury that took Harper out for two months to do just that, beating the Houston Astros 3-0 Monday night to clinch its first playoff berth in 11 years.

“This is the goal,” Harper said. “This is what you play for.”

Aaron Nola took a perfect game into the seventh inning and Schwarber homered to propel the Phillies to the victory Monday.

“It hasn’t been an easy season,” Schwarber said. “We went through a manager change, went through the MVP being down… and we went through people saying that our season’s over, that don’t even count the Phillies and they can’t catch the baseball… and for us to get all of our guys back and healthy and for them to all be there and contribute that’s what it’s about.”

After Brandon Marsh caught Mauricio Dubon’s fly ball in center for for the game’s final out, players jumped and cheered in jubilation before meeting at the mound where they hugged and bounced around some more.

The video board at Minute Maid Park displayed the team’s logo and the words: “Congratulations Philadelphia” as the Phillies celebrated.

A small but vocal group of Philadelphia fans congregated near the team’s dugout and chanted: “Let’s go Phillies,” in the bottom of the ninth inning.

In the clubhouse after the game, players and coaches drank directly from bottles of champagne affixed with special labels celebrating them punching their long-awaited and hard-fought ticket to the postseason.

They danced and sang as champagne from those special bottles rained down and soaked their red playoff T-shirts.

“When I signed here in ’19, I said it was going to take us a couple of years, three or four or five years to get to where we needed to be,” said Harper, a two-time MVP. “And we’re not where we need to be right now, but this is step one to hopefully greater success and a greater opportunity to get to where we need to be.”

Harper credited Thomson as the key to the team turning things around. Thomson said he appreciated the compliment but wouldn’t take credit for the success.

“At the start of the year we just weren’t playing well and we weren’t playing to our capability,” he said. “But I always felt like we were going to get there and we did. So. I just happened to come in at the right time.”

The Phillies clinched at the same ballpark where they secured their last postseason trip on Sept. 14, 2011. That game was a 1-0 victory over the Astros highlighted by a complete game shutout by Hall of Famer Roy Halladay.

Philadelphia’s postseason drought was the longest active one in the majors after the Seattle Mariners clinched their first playoff berth in 21 years Friday night.

Now that the Phillies have clinched, all 12 playoff spots are set with the exact matchups to be determined in the next two days.

The Phillies entered the opener of the final regular season series of the year needing a win or a loss by the Brewers to get a National League wild card spot. The Brewers rallied to beat the Diamondbacks 6-5 in 10 innings a few minutes before Philadelphia wrapped up the victory.

Nola (11-13) struck out nine and didn’t allow a baserunner until Yordan Alvarez singled with two outs in the seventh. David Hensley followed with a single and Nola was replaced by Jose Alvarado, who struck out Kyle Tucker to end the inning.

Zach Eflin pitched a scoreless ninth to complete the shutout and get his first save in 11 years of pro ball.

Schwarber got things going for the Phillies in their first visit to Houston since Sept. 16, 2012, with a leadoff homer off Lance McCullers (4-2)

Philadelphia added some insurance when Bryson Stott and Schwarber hit back-to-back solo shots off Jose Urquidy to start the eighth inning.

It is the eighth multi-home run game this season for Schwarber, who leads the NL with a career-high 46 home runs, and gives him 199 homers in his career.

McCullers allowed six hits and one run with five strikeouts in six innings.

“He was very good,” manager Dusty Baker said. “The first pitch, he missed location with it and that’s a dangerous guy to miss location with. And then he was really good, but Nola was better.”

Baker replaced Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Jeremy Pena with Aledmys Díaz, Dubon and Hensley for the seventh inning.

He said before the game that he planned to get some of his starters out early to rest since Houston has already clinched the best record in the American League.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Phillies: LHP Brad Hand (elbow tendinitis) threw a bullpen session Monday in Houston and could throw live batting practice Wednesday. If that goes well, he could be ready to return for the postseason.

LONG WAIT

The Phillies have three players who will appear in the postseason for the first time after playing more than 600 career games. Jean Segura leads the group with 1,327, J.T. Realmuto has 1,004 and Rhys Hoskins is at 666.

Segura, who is in his 11th major league season, began to wonder if this day would ever come.

“I was feeling some pressure on myself like I’m probably never going to get to the postseason,” he said.

Now that he’s made it, he couldn’t be happier.

“It was a long ride,” he said. “I’ve been waiting so many years for this opportunity and I guarantee I’m not going to let it go by.”

UP NEXT

Houston Justin Verlander, whose 1.80 ERA leads the majors, will try for his 18th win when the series continues Tuesday against Ranger Suarez (10-6, 3.37).

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero shoots.a free throw against the Los Angeles Clipper during ove...
Associated Press

Magic beat Clippers 116-111 in OT, snap 9-game losing streak

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Rookie Pablo Banchero scored 10 of his 23 points in overtime and the Orlando Magic snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 116-111 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night. Banchero, the top overall pick in the NBA draft, made all six of his free throws in the final […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Rosner scores 24 as Western Illinois defeats Iowa Wesleyan

MACOMB, Ill. (AP) — Alec Rosner had 24 points and Western Illinois beat Iowa Wesleyan 84-73 on Wednesday night. Rosner shot 9 for 11 (3 for 5 from 3-point range) and 3 of 3 from the free throw line for the Leathernecks (5-4). Trenton Massner scored 21 points while going 7 of 17 from the […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Andrews, No. 19 Baylor women cruise past UT Arlington 91-36

WACO, Texas (AP) — Sarah Andrews scored 20 points, Darianna Littlepage-Buggs had a double-double and No. 19 Baylor coasted to a 91-36 win over UT Arlington on Wednesday night. Jana Van Gytenbeek added 15 points and Caitlin Bickle had 13 for the Bears (7-2). Littlepage-Buggs had 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Bears were 11 […]
19 hours ago
Philadelphia 76ers' Tyrese Maxey, left, tries to get past Phoenix Suns' Chris Paul during the first...
Associated Press

Paul back in lineup for Suns after 14-game injury absence

PHOENIX (AP) — Chris Paul is back in the starting lineup for the Phoenix Suns after missing a month with a sore right heel. The 12-time All-Star guard returned Wednesday night against the NBA-leading Boston Celtics. The 37-year-old was listed as questionable for the game but did some work during the team’s morning shootaround. The […]
19 hours ago
FILE - Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper watches during warm ups before an NFL football game bet...
Associated Press

Panthers owner settles tax fight over failed practice space

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina county where Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper started building and then abandoned a new practice facility has reached a settlement over $21 million in sales tax money given to the NFL team. Tepper will pay back the money, and York County agreed its dispute was totally resolved with […]
19 hours ago
FILE -  New York Yankees' Aaron Judge gestures as he runs the bases after hitting a solo home run, ...
Associated Press

Judge goes back to Yankees as Giants, Padres examine options

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Farhan Zaidi got a text message from Aaron Judge’s representatives early Wednesday morning. And just like that, it was over. It was time to move on. With Judge returning to the New York Yankees on a $360 million, nine-year contract, the San Francisco Giants are mulling over their next move after […]
19 hours ago
Phillies down Astros for 1st playoff berth since 2011