In the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday night, Phillies slugger Bryce Harper might have single-handedly turned around the team’s season with a walkoff grand slam to secure both the win and a sweep of the Chicago Cubs.
“Being able to hit a walkoff homer like that is what you live for,” Harper told my colleague Matt Breen. “I was just so excited to get back with the boys at home plate. Everybody was going nuts. I was trying to get there as quick as possible to celebrate.”
Here’s how Harper’s bomb sounded on NBC Sports Philadelphia, with Tom McCarthy providing the call alongside an excited John Kruk, who can be heard screaming, “Oh my God!”
“Deep to right field. Way up there! And Waaaaaay outta’ here!” McCarthy said.
“I wish I could admit I knew what I was going to say,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter Friday morning. “Just came out. Loved the emotion from Johnny. Crowd was awesome. I think back to Harry [Kalas’s] 500th of Schmidty and he didn’t use his normal call. Just get caught up in emotion of moment.”
On radio, where the game aired on 1210 WPHT due to Thursday night’s Eagles preseason match-up against the Jacksonville Jaguars, play-by-play announcer Scott Franzke put all the emphasis on Harper’s ball being gone.
“Swung on. Hit high and deep. Right field! And that ball is gooooonnnnneeeeeee!” Franzke yelled.
Over on Spanish-language WTTM-AM, announcer Angel Castillo put all the emphasis on tracking Harper’s ball as it flew toward the right-field stands.
“Dos y dos. El zurdo. Viene. ¡Batazo profundo! ¡Al jardín derecho! Atras de la bolaaaaaaaaa! ¡Se va de cuadrangular!” Kulik said.
And here’s Kulik’s call translated into English, courtesy of my colleague Karla Ovalle:
“Two and two. The lefty. Here it comes. Deep hit to right field! Tracking the baaaaaaaaaaalll! And it’s gone for a homerun!”
The call of Harper’s home run sounded a lot different on WGN-TV in Chicago, with a dejected Len Kasper simply announcing, “The Phillies win it on a titanic grand slam by Bryce Harper.”
When Jean Segura flied out to start the bottom of the ninth inning with the Phillies trailing 5-1, the team’s win expectancy dropped to 0.6 percent, according to ESPN. But with the bases loaded just a few batters later, Cubs right fielder Nicholas Castellanos knew the game was over as soon as Harper made contact with the ball.
After the grand slam, a pumped-up Harper celebrated with just about every member of the team, including new interim hitting coach Charlie Manuel, who drew a bear hug from the Phillies slugger.
As my colleague Scott Lauber points out in the latest edition of our Extra Innings newsletter (which you should seriously sign-up for), The Phillies have scored 18 runs in 17 innings since Manuel’s return after scoring a total of 17 runs in deposed hitting coach John Mallee’s final five games.
Harper and the Phillies head back to Citizens Bank Park tonight to take on the San Diego Padres and slugger Manny Machado (remember him?) at 7:05 p.m. Vince Velasquez (4-7) will be on the mound for the Phillies, where he’ll face off against Padres starter Chris Paddack (7-5).