With Game 1s in the rear-view mirror, the National League’s wild card teams headed into decisive second games Wednesday night. In Milwaukee, with the Diamondbacks ahead in the series, these two defensively gifted squads were headed for a pitchers’ duel with Zac Gallen and Freddy Peralta getting starting nods. In the City of Brotherly Love, the Marlins looked to stay alive after dropping Game 1, but it would be no easy task against Aaron Nola, while they sent out 25-year-old Braxton Garrett.
NLWCS Game 2
For a game featuring two of the sports more talented starting pitchers, the scoring started early in this one. With their backs against the wall, the Brewers fired the opening salvo in Game 2 against Gallen. After a walk and a pair of singles from Christian Yelich and Mark Canha loaded the bases, Sal Frelick pushed the first across with a sac fly to right, and Willy Adames added a second with a line drive single into center.
Despite the early action, the promise of this pitching matchup delivered in the middle innings. Both Gallen and Peralta eclipsed 200 strikeouts in the regular season, and it was on display in the second, as Peralta notched a one looking and one swinging, while the D-Backs’ ace got Brice Turang swinging in his turn.
Things stayed quiet in the third and fourth as both studs found their groove, but the Arizona bats began to get loud in the fifth. With two outs, Alek Thomas yanked a changeup just over the wall in right field to get things rolling for the Snakes.
They weren’t done there, as their turn in the sixth would be the turning point of this game and the series. Down by a run, with two on, Ketel Marte grounded a ball up the middle to score both of ‘em, his second and third RBIs of the series. It gave them the lead, but it was just the start, as Tommy Pham scored on a wild pitch after singling, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. tallied another with a base hit to left to bring the score to 5-2 Arizona.
The score would stay right there, as the Arizona pitching stayed hot. Gallen got through the sixth, and just as they had in Game 1, the ‘pen held the Brew Crew scoreless. Despite the rumblings of a rally in the ninth, Paul Sewald kept things in check, and clinched the Wild Card Series victory. The D-Backs will take on the rival Dodgers in the Division Series.
NLWCS Game 2
Philadelphia Phillies 7, Miami Marlins 1
After Zack Wheeler tossed a gem the night prior, his excellent counterpart in the rotation followed right along in Game 2. It has been a bit of a down year for Aaron Nola, but you wouldn’t know it from his performance Wednesday night. He worked a couple of scoreless innings to start things off, but Braxton Garrett followed right along, doing the same while striking out four Phillies on his way.
Garrett’s luck began to run out in the fourth however, as the big Philly bats got hot. Kyle Schwarber got the party started with a double down the line to score the game’s first run, while Trea Turner added another with a deflected liner into right. With the score 2-0 and Miami already calling to the ‘pen and old friend David Robertson, J.T. Realmuto got in on the action with a booming solo shot to lead off the fourth.
With a lead now in the back pocket, Aaron Nola continued to put things in gear. After allowing a pair of runners to reach, the righty escaped the jam in the fifth with a double play ball to Jesús Sánchez, and crafted another to get out of the sixth, then worked a clean seventh to end his night. He went seven scoreless, allowing just three hits.
Just before that, however, the Phils put a grand finishing touch on this Wild Card Series. With Alec Bohm, Bryce Harper, and Nick Castellanos filling up the bags, Bryson Stott deemed it time to empty them.
The salami pushed their lead to 7-0, and all but wrapped this short series up. Orion Kerkering, a supremely talented righty who’s worked just three big league innings shut the Marlins down in the eighth, and handed the ball to Gregory Soto. Josh Bell knocked in Miami’s lone run of the game in the ninth, but it was too little too late, as the reigning NL Champion Phillies moved one step closer to a repeat, headed for a date with the Braves.