Kyle Gibson flirts with no-hitter as raging Phillies improve to 10 games over .500

On most nights, a barrage of five home runs would be the story.

Not with this one, however.

Rhys Hoskins, Nick Castellanos and Darick Hall all went deep into the first inning and JT Realmuto and Kyle Schwarber later joined the power party.

But Kyle Gibson stole the show Friday night.

“He was a lot of fun to catch,” Realmuto said. “That was the sharpest I’ve seen his stuff all season.”

Gibson flirted with a no-hitter and led the Phillies to a 7-2 victory over the lowly Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.

The 34-year-old righthander pitched perfect baseball for six innings. He lost his bid for the perfect game when he hit Victor Robles with a pitch to open the seventh. He then gave up a single to Luis Garcia to forfeit the no-hit opportunity.

The night was still quite special for Gibson. He tied for a season high with eight innings pitched and gave up only two hits and one run. He walked once, struckout four and hit two batters as he got tired late in the game.

The outstanding performance had a little extra meaning for Gibson. He missed his earlier start to attend the funeral of his grandmother, Von Gibson, who died at home in Indiana last week at age 84.

“She was a very special woman, very proud of all her grandchildren,” Gibson said.

The pitcher added that while throwing, he was inspired by his grandmother’s memory.

“No doubt,” he said.

Gibson’s gem and the Phillies’ dramatic display of strength helped make the night the last reminder that these Phillies might be brewing something special. As of June 1, they are 37-19. (The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers are the only teams in the majors with better records since.) The Phils have gone from sinking ship to playoff contender, currently holding the third and final NL wildcard spot.

Friday night’s win was the Phillies’ ninth in their last 11 games and propelled them to a season-best 10 games over .500 at 58-48.

The Phils were 22-29 when Rob Thomson took over from Joe Girardi as manager on June 3. Thomson’s first assignment was to meet the team and tell the players to focus on hitting the .500. Once there, the focus would be on hitting five games over .500, and once there, the focus would be on hitting 10 games over .500.

Well, they are here.

And Thomson is running for National League Manager of the Year.

As interim skipper.

The Phillies have won 16 of their last 18 against the Nationals, dating back to July 2021, including eight wins in 10 encounters this season. The Phils have nine more to play against the Nats this season, and clearing up against them would greatly increase the Phils’ playoff chances. They haven’t been there in 10 years.

“We’re playing better baseball for longer stretches this season,” said Realmuto. “We feel like our best baseball is still ahead of us.”

Gibson got a lot of early support when the Phils hit three homeruns in the first inning against Josiah Gray, the starter from Washington. Hoskins and Hall went solo and the resurgent Castellanos followed a triple by Realmuto with a two-run shot, his second in three games. Realmuto hit a homer with two runs in the third and Schwarber hit his NL-leading 34th in the seventh inning.

In addition to the run support, Gibson got a great defense from third baseman Alec Bohm, who kept the no-hit bid alive with a diving play and threw over the window to end the sixth.

After that game, it was time to look up some Phillies no-hitter facts, just in case. The Phils have had 13 no-hitters in franchise history. Cole Hamels last had his last start at the club on 25 July 2015.

Gibson admitted that he was starting to think about the possibility of pitching a no-hitter in the fourth inning.

“I don’t understand how guys don’t think about that,” he said. “Once you get through the first order and you didn’t allow a baserunner in the fourth inning, I think about it.”

In the end, Gibson didn’t join the no-hit club, but he certainly had a night to remember. After conceding the goal to Garcia in the seventh inning, he was treated to a standing ovation from the crowd of 22,024.

“That was cool,” he said. “I appreciate the cheers in the seventh when I conceded the goal. It’s always cool to have that kind of energy and have the fans locked in like that.”

Gibson, who pitched on an extremely humid evening, got tired in the eighth, hit his second batter and gave up his second basehit and a sacrifice fly. He struckout Robles to end the inning and triumphantly struck his glove as he walked off the mound.

Brad Hand gave up a run in the ninth to seal out the win.

Ranger Suarez and Patrick Corbin will pitch on Saturday night in a battle between left-handers.

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