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

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

Not on this one, though.

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

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 in leading the Phillies to a 7-2 win over the lowly Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.

The 34-year-old right-hander pitched perfect baseball through six innings. He lost his bid for the perfect game when he hit Victor Robles with a pitch to lead off the seventh. He then gave up a base hit to Luis Garcia to lose the no-hit chance.

The night was still pretty special for Gibson. He matched a season-high with eight innings pitched and gave up just two hits and a run. He walked one, struck out four and hit two batters as he retired late in the game.

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

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

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

“No doubt,” he said.

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

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

The Phils were 22-29 when Rob Thomson took over for Joe Girardi as manager on June 3. Thomson’s first order of business was to meet with the team and tell the players to simply focus on getting to .500. Once they got there, the focus would be on getting to five games over .500, and once they got there, the focus would become getting to 10 games over .500.

Now, they’re there.

And Thomson is becoming a National League Manager of the Year candidate.

As an interim skipper.

The Phillies have won 16 of their last 18 against the Nationals, dating to July 2021. Included in that are eight wins in 10 meetings this season. The Phils still have nine more to play against the Nats this season and cleaning up against them would strongly help the Phils’ playoff chances. They haven’t been there in 10 years.

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

Gibson received plenty of early run support when the Phils bashed three first-inning homers against Washington starter Josiah Gray. Hoskins and Hall had solo shots and the resurgent Castellanos followed a triple by Realmuto with a two-run shot, his second in three games. Realmuto pounded a two-run homer in the third and Schwarber clubbed his NL-leading 34th in the seventh inning.

In addition to the run support, Gibson received stellar defense from third baseman Alec Bohm, who kept the no-hit bid alive with a diving play and throw across the diamond to end the sixth.

After that play, 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 had the last one on July 25, 2015, his final start with the club.

Gibson admitted he started thinking about the possibility of pitching a no-hitter in the fourth inning.

“I don’t know how guys don’t think about that,” he said. “Once you’ve made it through the first time of the order and you haven’t allowed a base runner into the fourth inning, I’m thinking about it.”

Ultimately, Gibson did not join the no-hit club, but he certainly had a night to remember. After giving up the hit to Garcia in the seventh, he was treated to a standing ovation by the crowd of 22,024.

“That was cool,” he said. “I appreciate the cheering in the seventh when I gave up the hit. It’s always cool to have that kind of energy and the fans be locked in like that.”

Pitching on an extremely humid night, Gibson retired in the eighth, hit his second batter and allowed his second hit and a sacrifice fly. He struck out Robles to end the inning and punched his glove in triumph as he walked off the mound.

Brad Hand allowed a run in the ninth in closing out the win.

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

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