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MLB Playoff Roundup: Phillies strike first in NLCS

Zack Wheeler dominated while Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber provided all of the firepower needed in Game 1.

Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v San Diego Padres - Game One Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Yankees completed the Division Series at long last, defeating the Guardians 5-1 to secure a berth in the ALCS and a date with their postseason rivals, the Astros. That series will kick off today due to the immensely packed schedule this year on top of all of the delays that the ALDS had, but the Yankees’ victory happened to overlap with the start of the NLCS yesterday. The Phillies and the Padres were both surprise entrees into this stage of the postseason, but huge upset wins over the Braves and Dodgers respectively earned them this spot. Let’s see how they kicked off the other half’s upper bracket:

NLCS Game 1

Philadelphia Phillies 2, San Diego Padres 0

(PHI leads series, 1-0)

The National League was treated to a pitchers’ duel in Game 1, with Zack Wheeler on one side and Yu Darvish on the other. Darvish was electric in his own right, tossing seven innings and allowing only three hits and a walk against seven strikeouts. Unfortunately, two of those three hits were solo home runs, one to Bryce Harper in the fourth inning:

And then an absolute blast by Kyle Schwarber in the sixth inning:

That ball went an estimated 448 feet and got launched at 119.7 mph, narrowly eclipsing Giancarlo Stanton’s 2020 laser in the ALDS against the Rays for the hardest-hit home run in Statcast postseason history. It also elicited a hilarious reaction from Harper, who was left speechless after witnessing that ball get tattooed.

On the other side, Wheeler was absolutely dealing. After a one-out walk to Juan Soto in the first inning, Wheeler did not allow another baserunner until the fifth inning when Wil Myers managed to hit one up the middle — keep in mind that this was also the Padres’ first hit of the game. They wouldn’t get another one for the rest of the night, thanks to Wheeler’s effortless cruise through the San Diego lineup. He exited the game after seven innings despite only throwing 83 pitches, perhaps signaling that the Phillies want him to be 100 percent on a short turnaround and didn’t see the need to send him back out there to secure this game.

That gamble proved to be correct, though naturally it was tested. The Padres went down 1-2-3 against Seranthony Dominguez in the eighth, but in the ninth Jose Alvarado allowed a one-out walk and then the Phillies defense reared its ugly head. Third baseman Alec Bohm attempted to turn the double play ball but couldn’t connect with Bryson Stott and both runners were allowed to reach safely, putting the tying run on base with the dangerous Manny Machado due up. Fortunately for the Phillies, Alvarado picked his defense up and got Machado to fly out before striking out Josh Bell to end it.

Up Next

San Diego Padres vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Petco Park in San Diego

Game 2: Blake Snell vs. Aaron Nola

First pitch: 4:35pm ET (FOX)

This afternoon’s game could be pivotal, as Philadelphia sends out their ace Aaron Nola to the mound while San Diego counters with Blake Snell. If the Phillies can snag a 2-0 lead before even heading back to Citizens Bank Park, they’ll be in the driver’s seat for this entire series. Their all-offense, no-defense lineup put up exactly what was expected in the opener, but we’ll have to see if any more slip ups cost them going forward.