While the Yankees were getting lambasted in their ALCS matchup against the Astros, the NLCS had some drama worth following. The Phillies and Padres have gone back and forth through the first three games with Philadelphia holding the 2-1 advantage entering Game 4, but things went off the rails right away.
NLCS Game 4
Philadelphia Phillies 10, San Diego Padres 6
(Phillies leads series 3-1)
The Phillies sent out Bailey Falter to start the game, pushed to start the second-year pitcher after exhausting their main starters getting through Atlanta and the start of this series. Rob Thomson wasn’t expecting to get many innings out of the 25-year-old’s arm, hoping for around three innings if they were fortunate. Well, they certainly weren’t — Falter wouldn’t get out of the first inning and surrendered four runs in the opening frame. He retired Jurickson Profar and Juan Soto to lead off the game, but Manny Machado tagged him for a solo shot and then three more batters reached base. Connor Brogdon got the call to replace Falter with a man on and three runs already aboard, but he wasn’t able to strand the inherited runner and the Padres had an excellent start brewing.
That is, until the Phillies punched right back in the bottom of the first. Mike Clevinger was on the mound for the Padres, and he allowed a Kyle Schwarber leadoff single before serving one up to Rhys Hoskins for a two-run shot. After a J.T. Realmuto walk, Bryce Harper laced a double to put a third Phillies run on the board and suddenly the deficit was just a single run. Clevinger was already out of the game, and unlike Falter he didn’t even manage to record a single out.
All was quiet for a few innings as the bullpens took over earlier than anyone expected, but in the fourth inning the Phillies tied the game on a one-out single from Bryson Stott. The Padres lead was gone, but they struck back in the top of the fifth with a two-run homer from Juan Soto, his first of the postseason. Soto’s early tenure in San Diego hasn’t been as flashy as most hoped it would be, but if they want to advance they need his bat to heat up and this is a promising sign.
Once again though, as soon as the Padres erupted the Phillies had an answer. In the bottom of the fifth inning Schwarber worked a one-out walk, bringing Hoskins back up with a runner on. He proceeded to send another ball over the wall in left-center, this time off of Sean Manaea, and the game was tied once more. It didn’t stay that way for long, thanks to Harper raking in another double to give Philadelphia their first lead of the night. Nick Castellanos brought Harper home on an RBI single that took a lucky bounce off the second base bag, and suddenly the Phillies led 8-6.
From there, a pair of former New York pitchers in Noah Syndergaard and David Robertson combined to handle the lion’s share of the late innings. Philadelphia added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth and seventh innings thanks to solo shots from Schwarber Realmuto, and that was that. The Phillies took Game 4 and now stand a game away from an improbable run to the World Series.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. San Diego Padres
Game 5: Zach Wheeler vs. Yu Darvish
First Pitch: 2:37 pm ET (FOX)
It’s back to the Game 1 starters with the Padres’ season on the brink. Wheeler cruised through San Diego’s lineup last time out, needing just 83 pitches to go seven shutout and outduel Darvish, who had a fine performance of his own. The Padres will have to solve Wheeler if they want to stand any chance of keeping their World Series hopes alive, but because Wheeler was so economical in his outing he’s the more rested starter heading in. A wild start like in Game 4 could disrupt that, but if both starters are allowed to get into a groove it’s advantage Philadelphia with tickets to the Fall Classic on the line.