The Phillies chased Max Fried and extended their lead over Atlanta tonight at Truist Park.
Fried was eliminated when the Phillies took first place in the fifth inning, throwing 95 pitches and allowing three runs on six hits and four walks. Kirby Yates came on in relief.
Nick Castellanos then singled, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Travis d’Arnaud. Then Bryson Stott rushed to the middle of the field and Castellanos scored and it was 4-0.
Phillies starter Zack Wheeler had six strikeouts over two innings – the first time in MLB postseason history that he had not allowed a hit – although one Braves batter reached base on an error by Trea Turner at shortstop.
He increased that number to eight strikeouts in four hitless innings.
JT Realmuto hit a two-run fly ball into the Braves’ infield over the center-field fence to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead over Atlanta in the third inning of Game 2 of the National League Division Series.
Bryce Harper scored early and scored on Realmuto’s second postseason home run and the Phillies catcher’s record fifth home run of his postseason career.
Phils scores first
Turner moved to right center twice and scored on Bohm’s first-down single, with one in the top of the first inning. Singles by Realmuto and Nick Castellanos loaded the bases, and Fried was visited by pitching coach Rick Kranitz on the mound.
Bryson Stott then added a 3-0 score, followed by a 3-1 run to first base to end the threat, but the Phillies took a 1-0 lead.
Home field advantage?
Another homecoming for Wheeler from Georgia tonight at Truist Park.
If Wheeler plays like he and the Phillies hope, the homecoming at Citizens Bank Park will be even better. Only one victory is needed to advance to the National League play-offs.
Wheeler starts Game 2 at 6 p.m. (TBD) and the Phillies lead the Braves 1-0 in the best-of-seven NL Division Series after Saturday’s 3-0 victory.
He had a phenomenal game last Tuesday in Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series against Miami. Wheeler allowed five hits, struck out eight and walked zero over 6 2/3 innings in a 4-1 win.
Wheeler is from Smyrna, Georgia, northwest of Atlanta. Despite the Braves’ impressive lineup, he enjoys playing there.
“Coming back here every year is amazing,” he said Saturday, “but especially during the playoffs, during the big moments, a lot of people come and watch. It will definitely be fun to play here in front of my friends and family and hopefully we will win.”
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In five starts over the past two seasons at Truist Park, Wheeler is 4-1 with a 1.87 ERA and 39 strikeouts with just four walks. The Braves hit .190 against him. This year, his ERA was 0.64, winning in both starts.
Wheeler was 13-6, 3.61 ERA in 32 regular season starts and struck out 212 in 192 innings. He will play on the pitch tonight, likely with an extra day of rest.
Phillies lineup for NLDS Game 2
With lefty Max Fried on the mound for Atlanta, the Phillies have the same batting order and lineup as they did against Miami’s pair of southpaws:
1-Kyle Schwarber DH2-Trea Turner SS3-Alex Bohm 3B4-Bryce Harper 1B5-JT Realmuto C6-Nick Castellanos RF7-Bryson Stott 2B8-Cristian Pache LF9-Johan Rojas CF
“We just wanted to keep two right-handed hitters between all our left-handed hitters,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “So they have Fried on the mound and two lefties in the bullpen who are really good at hitting lefties. So you have two [right-handed hitters] between Schwarber and Harper, and you have two between Harper and Stott and you have two between Stott and Schwarber.
Braves’ Max Fried back on the mound
Braves starter Fried was 8-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 14 starts this season, despite being sidelined for three months with a left forearm strain.
The southpaw is playing his first game since Sept. 21 after dealing with a blister on his left index finger. He worked five innings in an intrasquad game last week with a bandage on his finger, which is not allowed in the game.
“I feel like my finger has healed and is back to normal,” he said Saturday.
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Fried knows the Phillies as well as he expects a big challenge.
“I think I faced the Phillies more than anyone in my career,” he said. “They know what I have. I know what they have. There are no secrets. I just get by, making and throwing the shots I need to, and it’s just whoever makes the best shot that day.
“And I know they won’t give me anything. They are extremely disciplined. They are great hitters, they field well and they play good baseball, especially when it matters most and they need to win.
“Max Fried is a top-class player,” Phillies manager Ron Thomson said before the game. “He has great skills. We assume the blister is gone. I think this needs to be assumed. But the fastball is real. Curveball, can hit. Attacks people. Really good move. He is an athlete. He’s an impressive guy.”
Hot Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper, who scored in Saturday’s win, is hitting .352/.439/.746 with seven doubles, seven home runs and 14 RBI in 20 postseason games for the Phillies.
His 1.186 OPS is eighth in MLB history after 20 postseason games with one team, a category led by Yankee great Lou Gehrig with a 1.395 OPS from 1926-36.
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The Phillies can’t let it go
Thomson suggested that the Phillies can’t relax after winning Game 1 and have a great chance to extend their series lead today.
“It’s always important to win the first game, but I think the second game is also very important,” he said.
“It’s kind of a swing game. You can’t give up on this club at all because they are good, they can attack and they can do a lot of good things. So we have to keep our finger on the pulse.”
The Braves have not yet announced the starting pitcher for Game 3 for Wednesday. Aaron Nola will go to the Phillies. . . Rookie Rojas, whose defensive play in center field has been met with enthusiasm, said his favorite player is Ronald Acuna of the Braves. “He was a central defender before,” Rojas said before today’s match. “Now he is a right-back. But I love the way he plays. He plays hard. Play to win. That’s why he’s my favorite player.”
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