PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 14: Rhys Hoskins #17 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates after hitting a three run home run against Spencer Strider #65 of the Atlanta Braves during the third inning in game three of the National League Division Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 14, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

If I told you a few weeks ago the Phillies would be one win away from playing in the NLCS, you would have called me crazy. The Phillies looked dead in September. Even if they managed to back into the playoffs, there were not many people high on their chances to do much there. But that is the thing about playoff baseball. Anything can happen. And an underdog can be live. Enter this Phillies team, who are now just one win away from advancing to the NLCS.

First, they swept the Cardinals. In the first game, it took a 9th-run rally. Then in the 2nd, all it took was a Harper moonshot and a brilliant night from Aaron Nola. Two wins that helped the Phillies win their first playoff series since 2010, and guaranteed the Phillies fans would see a home baseball game.

Many would have said that was enough. Breaking both the playoff drought and the playoff win drought. They were heading to Atlanta to face a team many rightly said was superior. The Braves have been the best team in baseball for the last 4 months. They are defending champs and seemed to have every intention of making it two in a row. But then the Phillies won game 1. And even though they dropped game 2, there was hope. The Phillies were coming home with a chance to win two and advance. And in front of this crowd, that was a chance many would take.

First, they needed one. With Nola on the mound, we knew the pitching would be there. But could the bats give him a lead? They were facing off with Spencer Strider, who dominated them all year long. Not today though.

First, it was a double off the bat of Bryson Stott. Stott battled fouling off several pitches with 2 strikes until he got one he liked. He laced it to right field to send Brandon Marsh home from third. Then they walked Kyle Schwarber to get the Rhys Hoskins. Boom. In one swing Rhys made up for the several mistakes he made in the field. It was his crucial mistake that led to a 3-run inning to give the Braves the eventual win. But none of that mattered today. He crushed a ball into left field to bust the game wide open. Two at-bats later Harper followed suit with a 2 run shot of his own. Suddenly the Phillies found themselves up 6-0.

And that was all they needed. Nola went 3 more innings, holding them to just one unearned run. Jose Alvarado, Brad Hand, and Connor Brogdon picked it up from there. They would add some more runs off the bats of Harper and Nick Castellanos, but they didn’t even need them. The Phillies won 9-1.

And now they need just one more win. 9 more innings of winning baseball, to keep the magical season going into the NLCS. A place the Phillies haven’t made it in 12 years. It hasn’t been an easy season. We saw them fire a manager two months in because they fell so far back, and the team felt lifeless. But something changed. Maybe it was the steady hand of Rob Thomson on the wheel. Or maybe it was just a talented team finally playing up to its potential. But if the Phillies can win tomorrow, they will move on to play either the LA Dodgers or the Padres. And we know the Phillies’ playoff history with those Dodgers.

Buckle in, we could be in for one hell of a ride with this team.