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MLB Playoff Roundup: Phillies take Game 1 in the NLCS matchup of Wild Cards

A powerful start led the Phillies to a victory in Game 1.

Championship Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies - Game One Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies came out with guns blazing, and in this battle of Wild Card teams, Philly drew first blood at home with a win to secure Game 1. With both teams winning their respective NLDS matchups without the need for a Game 5, we had a battle of aces to start off this Championship Series.

Zack Gallen took the ball for the D-Backs against the veteran Zack Wheeler, who ended up with the win, his second in this postseason.

NLCS Game 1

Arizona Diamondbacks 3, Philadelphia Phillies 5

(Philadelphia leads series 1-0)

Zack Gallen has been prone to first-inning woes in this postseason, and the trend continued for this opening game of the Championship Series. Gallen maneuvered a multi-run first to toss six strong in the Wild Card round and then kept the Dodgers off the board despite allowing multiple men on base in Game 2 of the NLDS.

However, against the potent Phillies offense in the NLCS, Gallen did not have the opportunity to wiggle his way out of trouble, allowing two monstrous home run shots to a couple of the game’s first three hitters. Kyle Schwarber got things going with a missile, over 117 MPH off the bat to deep right, on a first-pitch 92 MPH fastball that came in right in the sweetest of spots.

After fortunately recording an out as Trea Turner hit another ball over 100 MPH but right at a D-Back, it was Bryce Harper’s turn to get in on the fun. The Phils’ first baseman also hit a solo bomb, going the exact same distance as Schwarbs’ 420-foot shot. Despite many postseason trips, Harper had never played a game on his birthday in the big leagues, and he made the most out of this opportunity, giving himself an early birthday present in the evening.

Gallen kept the damage there in the first, but the Phillies heavyweight bats weren’t done with him, as Nick Castellanos went yard for the third solo shot of the game, in the second. An inning later Harper continued his ideal birthday by driving in Philadelphia’s fourth run on a single, scoring Trea Turner who had just doubled.

Gallen ended up grinding through this one, covering six frames, allowing that handful of runs to score. And even if Arizona’s comeback attempt was stopped short, their ace kept their bullpen fresh, on a night it was clear he didn’t have it early on.

Despite leading 5-0 by the start of the sixth inning, Philadelphia wouldn’t take this one without sweating it out a bit as Arizona almost mounted a comeback from an unlikely source. Zack Wheeler had been cruising up to this point, but after Evan Longoria led off the frame with a single, the ninth-hole hitter Geraldo Perdomo went yard to cut Philly’s lead to 5-2.

Those were two of only three baserunners Wheeler allowed all evening. He closed out that frame, lasting a total of six innings and surrendering just the two earned runs, while racking up eight punchouts without a single walk.

Arizona would score once more after a fielding error by reliever Seranthony Domínguez allowed for a sac fly to drive in Arizona’s third run, but that would be that. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. came up to the plate as the tying run with a man on and one out against closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning. However, the former Blue Jay grounded into a double play that would end the game.

With the AL on a travel day, Arizona and Philadelphia get the stage to themselves on Tuesday night as Merrill Kelly will face off against Aaron Nola. Having won each of their first five postseason games, this will be Arizona’s first affair trailing in a postseason series in 2023.