The American League was off on Monday for travel, but the two Senior Circuit series more than made up for it. The Phillies and Diamondbacks both sought 2-0 leads over the NL heavyweight Braves and Dodgers, but only Arizona succeeded despite sizzling stuff from Zack Wheeler.
NLDS Game 2
(Series tied 1-1)
The Phillies and Braves both made their fair share of mistakes in the field and on the bases, but the home team came out with the 5-4 victory to even up the NL East rivals. In the early stages of the game, the Phillies continued their surprising blitz on the Braves, knocking out Max Fried after just four innings, tagging him with three runs in the process. Brian Snitker’s club looked lifeless for six innings, but in the seventh, that would change dramatically.
The Phillies built their lead early. Trea Turner doubled as the second batter of the game and immediately put Fried on the ropes. Third baseman Alec Bohm singled him in, and in a blink, it was 1-0 Phillies. Then in the top of the third, J.T. Realmuto checked in with a two-run blast, crushing a slider at almost 110 mph to right-center field.
Phillies ace Wheeler cruised through the first five innings with nary a hit allowed, and his team added to their lead in their half of the fifth. Kirby Yates replaced Max Fried to start the frame and initially he didn’t fare much better. Castellanos singled, then put pressure on the defense by swiping second. Man, wouldn’t it be nice if the Yankees had more base-stealing acumen? Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud sailed the throw into center field and Castellanos took third with just one out. Bryson Stott got the job done, punching a sacrifice fly to plate Castellanos and make it 4-0. Unfortunately for the Phillies, after the hot start, that’s all they’d get on the night. A combination of Joe Jiménez, Pierce Johnson, A.J. Minter, and Raisel Iglesias held the visiting team scoreless after the fifth inning.
The theme of shoddy defense would continue; in the home sixth, the Braves finally got on the board with the help of an error. The inning started with Ronald Acuña Jr. drawing a walk. Acuña will most likely win the NL MVP, and he hasn’t skipped a beat in the postseason. With the speedster on first, Ozzie Albies lined a single to right field, and Acuña was initially content with going first to third on the play. Turner mishandled a lazy throw back into the infield, and that’s all Acuña needed to scamper home and get his team on the board.
The Braves made some real noise in the seventh and eighth, putting two runs up in each inning to pull ahead 5-4. Matt Olson continued crushing the ball with a single to lead off the seventh, and d’Arnaud made sure Olson could jog leisurely home when he swatted a two-run homer.
Phillies skipper and former Yankee coach Rob Thomson pulled Wheeler after the home run in favor of José Alvarado, ending Wheeler’s day after 6.1 innings and two earned runs. He really only made a couple of mistakes, and made quick work of the best offense in the big leagues for the first five frames.
Alvarado retired all three hitters he faced and handed the reins to Jeff Hoffman with the slim lead intact. Hoffman hit Acuña with a pitch and he stole a base, then Austin Riley sent one into the bullpen in left center field to give the Braves their first lead of the night.
They wouldn’t relinquish the lead as their steady closer Iglesias polished off the 5-4 win to even the series at one game apiece going back to Philly. Notably, the game ended on an outstanding catch by Harris in center, whose relay throw in with picked up by Riley and checked to first in time to double off Bryce Harper. What a way to send this series back to Philly in a dead heat!
NLDS Game 2
(Arizona leads series 2-0)
In the late game Monday, the Diamondbacks squared off with the Dodgers on the heels of a surprise Game One win. Much like the game in Atlanta, the visiting team jumped on the home side quickly. The first two hitters, Corbin Carroll and Ketel Marte, reached on a walk and a single respectively. Tommy Pham then followed suit and slapped a single to load the bases three batters into the game. Christian Walker brought Carroll home on a sacrifice fly, then two batters later Lourdes Gurriel Jr. delivered a two-out single to plate two more and put the DBacks ahead 3-0 in the early going.
Dodgers starter Bobby Miller was shaky to say the least and Arizona chased him after just 1.2 innings, though they weren’t able to cash in the opportunity in the second inning. Brusdar Graterol came in and restored order with two hitless innings.
Meanwhile, Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen cruised until the Dodgers tallied a run in the fourth. Former AL East foe JD Martinez connected with a full count offering and cranked a home run to get his team on the board against Gallen.
After Graterol’s spotless day of work, former Red Sox Ryan Brasier covered the next 2.1 innings, though he gave up a home run to Gurriel, who continues to be valuable for Arizona after being traded from Toronto.
The Dodgers hung tough against Gallen, stringing together enough long at-bats to get him out of the game after 5.1 innings. When Max Muncy and Martinez singled consecutively, Torey Lovullo made the move to rookie Andrew Saalfrank, who walked the first hitter he faced, then gave up an RBI on a fluky infield single by Enrique Hernández to make the score 4-2.
Another former Red Sox, Joe Kelly, came in and pitched a scoreless seventh. The Dodgers got a runner aboard in both the seventh and eighth innings, but rapped into a double play in both cases to stymie any momentum. Arizona’s closer, trade deadline acquisition Paul Seward, took care of the bottom of the ninth to record the save, and the series heads back to Chase Field with the Dodgers facing elimination.