The Phillies, much like last year, are playing their best baseball when it counts most. The Diamondbacks’ run has been a fun story and a fresh face deep into the playoffs, but through two games it appears they’ve met their match. Tonight, the Phillies once again racked up the extra base hits and won 10-0 behind a strong start by Aaron Nola.
NLCS Game 2
Arizona Diamondbacks 0, Philadelphia Phillies 10
(Philadelphia leads series 2-0)
The Diamondbacks entered these two games facing a hostile environment to say the least — Citizens Bank Park brought about 111 decibels at its rowdiest in Game 1, a Phillies win. Game 2 starter Merrill Kelly slightly downplayed its level in advance of his start, poking the Philadelphia fan base bear. That’s never really one you want to poke.
Lo and behold, fans in attendance got a chance to pump up the decibels upon a couple of mistakes by the Arizona starter early. After a scoreless top of the first by Nola, Trea Turner took Kelly deep with authority to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead.
Kelly allowed an inordinate amount of hard contact in the early going, and his outfielders secured several fly balls with their backs against the padding of the outfield wall. The Bank couldn’t contain Turner’s blast nor this one in the third inning by the red-hot Kyle Schwarber:
Nola, meanwhile, didn’t allow a walk or hit until Ketel Marte led off the fourth inning with a single. The visitors threatened in that inning when Gabriel Moreno singled as well, but Nola got out of the jam. The veteran flashed his excellent changeup and biting sinker to induce mostly uncomfortable swings from the D-backs’ young hitters, using their aggressiveness against them. He kept the ball on the ground as a result and cruised through five, but with one out in the sixth, Marte again made some noise, this time in the form of a double down the right-field line to put Nola on the ropes. They quickly squandered the opportunity, though, with two poor at bats. Tommy Pham and Christian Walker both failed to drive Marte in from second, and through five and a half innings, the score remained 2-0 Phillies.
Schwarber quickly gave the Phillies more cushion with another home run to lead off the home sixth. Kelly then walked Turner but retired Alec Bohm and Bryce Harper, at which point Arizona manager Torey Lovullo pulled the plug. Kelly pitched somewhat adequately all things considered, finishing after 5.2 innings of three-run ball, though he would be dinged with a fourth run in Turner after his day was done. Lovullo went from his soft-tossing righty sinker baller Kelly to his soft-tossing lefty sinkerballer Joe Mantiply.
It didn’t go well. Bryson Stott greeted Mantiply with a single up the middle and a stolen base to place runners on second and third, setting up a pivotal at-bat for Phillies catcher JT Realmuto. He delivered a clutch double, plating Turner and Stott and opening up the lead to 5-0.
After an intentional walk to Nick Castellanos, Brandon Marsh followed up with a double to plate Realmuto and make it 6-0. Jeff Hoffman replaced Nola in the seventh after six shutout innings by the Phillies starter. Hoffman was equally effective, dispatching Arizona in order on just ten pitches. Mantiply walked Schwarber to lead off the home seventh, ending his day, and Ryne Nelson entered the fray hoping to restore order. Mantiply inauspiciously recorded only one out and allowed three hits and three runs in the process.
Nelson didn’t fare much better. Turner lined out, but the Phillies notched three consecutive hits after him. After a Harper single, a Bohm double, and a Stott single, the score was 8-0, and the rout was on.
The Phillies then poured on a Realmuto single, a Castellanos sac fly and a Marsh walk to knock Nelson out. Rookie Slade Cecconi took the mound to try his luck and retired Johan Rojas to mercifully end the seventh at 10-0.
Former Red Sox arm Matt Strahm pitched a scoreless eighth and rookie Orion Kerkering did the same in the final frame. All told, the Diamondbacks only mustered four hits all night. Next, the series will take us to Chase Field in Phoenix for games tomorrow and Friday; they’ll need to win at least one to force a Game 5. So far, it’s been all Phils.