The Philadelphia Phillies celebrated a second consecutive playoff berth in a champagne-soaked clubhouse on Tuesday.
With their sixth straight victory, a 3-2 win in 10 innings over the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates, the Phillies (88-69) earned a National League wild-card berth.
Philadelphia will look to continue the good vibes when it plays host to Pittsburgh (74-83) on Wednesday in the middle contest of a three-game series.
The Phillies’ clinching moment came from an unlikely source. Rookie Johan Rojas, who began the season with Double-A Reading, hit a walk-off single to center field with one out in the 10th.
“It is an incredible feeling,” the 23-year-old center fielder said in a postgame interview on NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Everyone has welcomed me with open arms. Everyone has been so supportive of me.”
Brandon Marsh hit a solo home run to help propel the surging Phillies, who got to the World Series last season before losing in six games to the Houston Astros.
“We have a beautiful group of guys that are incredibly talented,” Philadelphia right fielder Nick Castellanos said.
Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber added, “You never take this stuff for granted. There’s a lot of players in this game who don’t make the postseason.”
Now the Phillies will start a new journey as the top NL wild-card team. They will host playoff games on Oct. 3, Oct. 4 and (if necessary) Oct. 5.
“We’re excited to be back,” Schwarber said. “Anything can happen.”
On Wednesday, the Phillies will hand the ball to Ranger Suarez (4-6, 3.89 ERA). In his latest start, against the New York Mets on Thursday, he allowed five hits and four runs in 6 2/3 innings en route to a 5-4 victory.
Suarez has been stellar in his career against the Pirates, going 2-0 with 19 1/3 scoreless innings in five games, including two starts.
The Pirates will look to snap a two-game skid that has followed a four-game winning streak.
Pittsburgh received solo home runs from Henry Davis and Bryan Reynolds in the one-run defeat on Tuesday. The Pirates managed just five hits and one walk while striking out 12 times against five Philadelphia pitchers.
The Pirates started the season hot, winning 20 of their first 28 games. They had the best record in the NL entering May. However, they were unable to maintain that positive momentum and they finish the season with a losing record for the fifth year in a row.
“We have to be optimistic. We have to believe in what we are capable of doing,” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh. “That’s part of the game, part of the job, part of the business. But with that, we have to be very honest also and focus on all the things we can get better at. We’ll just keep getting after it and keep improving. That’s the name of the game.”
Johan Oviedo (9-14, 4.12 ERA) is expected to start for the Pirates on Wednesday. The right-hander tossed six scoreless innings and allowed four hits in his most recent start, a victory over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.
Oviedo is 0-0 with a 5.14 ERA in three career games, including one start, against the Phillies.
The Pirates recalled infielder Nick Gonzales from Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday. The 24-year-old had a strong minor league season, hitting .281 with a .507 slugging percentage and 49 extra-base hits. Infielder Alika Williams was optioned to Indianapolis.
–Field Level Media
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