Phillies send Padres packing, punch ticket to Series

If the Philadelphia Phillies allowed themselves to dream on it, signing Bryce Harper meant returning to the World Series. On Sunday, the dream became reality when Harper belted a go-ahead two-run home run in the eighth inning of a rain-soaked NLCS Game 5 to topple the San Diego Padres, 4-3, and clinch a trip to the Fall Classic.

Signed for 13 years and $330 million prior to 2019, Harper's tenure in Philadelphia had, until June, been a frustrating combination of individual excellence and collective mediocrity. The team took off after firing manager Joe Girardi and replacing him with bench coach Rob Thomson. Despite being the NL East's third-best team, they powered into the playoff picture over the summer and held on to the sixth and final spot in an expanded postseason field in September.

Now, playing their own distinct brand of sometimes-chaotic baseball, they have claimed the NL pennant and the franchise's first World Series berth since 2009.

[Get your Phillies NL champions gear here]

Game 5 was influenced by wet conditions throughout. Having already condensed the playoff schedule following the lockout, MLB chose to play the game through rain in Philadelphia. There was only one off day built into the NLCS and ALCS schedules — after Game 2 — instead of the usual two.

In the top of the seventh, a downpour seemed to flip the teams' fortunes when the Padres brought the go-ahead run around on a series of wild pitches by Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez.

But Harper responded the following inning, blasting his momentous homer off San Diego setup man Robert Suarez. That followed a Game 4 where Harper capped a raucous Phillies comeback with a go-ahead RBI double.

THE SWING OF HIS LIFE!

BRYCE HARPER FOR THE LEAD ‼️🔔pic.twitter.com/dp6Q8E5sO6

— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) October 23, 2022

The Phillies turned to trade deadline acquisition David Robertson in the ninth, but eventually brought in Game 3 starter Ranger Suarez to get the last two outs after two Padres reached.

Harper, a two-time NL MVP, is writing an October legend. Despite strong teams, his time on the Nationals produced zero playoff series victories. Now he has three. Batting over .400 in the postseason so far, Harper is scorching hot heading into the first World Series appearance of a career that has been under the microscope since Sports Illustrated dubbed him the "chosen one" at age 16.

He looks to be just that for a Philadelphia fan base that suffered through disappointment at the end of the era headlined by Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, then a long and winding rebuild.

In a rematch from Game 1, Zack Wheeler and Yu Darvish largely controlled the action early. They each pitched into the seventh inning, allowing two runs apiece, but neither factored in the decision.

A Padres win would have meant the series returning to San Diego for Game 6 and potentially Game 7. Instead, Philadelphia is celebrating a pennant Sunday night and preparing for a clash with either the Astros or Yankees. Houston, up 3-0 in the ALCS, could seal that matchup as early as Sunday night in the Bronx.

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    All these reactions are just the absolute best https://t.co/nD2v4nIxLC

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    RT @YahooSports: THE PHILLIES ARE OFF TO THE WORLD SERIES 🙌Gear up for the Fall Classic here!➡️ https://t.co/6Xx872jiVu https://t.co/LW…

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    https://t.co/DWtuL3JqKy

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    RT @YahooSports: The party is on in Philadelphia 😂(via @KeeleyFox29)https://t.co/mAdsNRssaq

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    Bryce Harper: ‘There’s nothing like winning in Philadelphia.’

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    RT @ByMcCullough: It makes sense to use Josh Hader in that spot, but it should be said: Robert Suarez made some excellent pitches to Bryce…

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    Bryce Harper stunning home run sends Phillies to first World Series since 2009 https://t.co/fpPZ35Zie2

Need to catch up on the major October storylines? We've got you covered.

  • The Phillies are taking their own very weird path toward a World Series

  • The Yankees' offense is crumbling beneath Aaron Judge. Could it affect their hopes of keeping him?

  • The Dodgers and Braves aren't out because of the new playoff format. That's just the playoffs

  • How the Padres took down the Dodgers and scored a win for little brothers everywhere

  • Yordan Alvarez reminded the Mariners what it takes to topple the Astros

  • Why pitching depth matters more than ever in the 2022 playoffs

  • How dangerous is each playoff contender right now? These are the October power rankings

  • Looking for the next Randy Arozarena? These 13 under-the-radar names might be ready for their moment

  • The young Mariners finally broke through and ended Seattle's interminable playoff drought. Relive the delirious days that got them there

  • How will we remember the Mets' 101-win season once the disappointment wears off?

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