The Dodgers and Braves are the two best teams in the National League, but you would not know that if you started watching baseball today. With a particularly unfavorable pitching matchup, the Phillies took care of the Braves, 3-0, and later on, the D-Backs gave Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers a beating of a lifetime, with an 11-2 victory.
Both series take a break with a day off between the first two games, which isn’t ideal from a momentum standpoint. However, it will help the pitching setup of Arizona, who’ll have the ability to use Zac Gallen twice if the series goes five.
NLDS Game 1
Philadelphia Phillies 3, Atlanta Braves 0
(PHI leads series 1-0)
Everyone hears the same thing every season, that playoff baseball is different, almost a separate sport. For the most part, there’s some hyperbolic nature to that statement, but there’s also some truth behind it. The Atlanta Braves ran the table in the regular season, dominating what was supposed to be one of the toughest divisions in the sport. Their offense broke records. And tonight, making their first postseason start, they did something they hadn’t all season long.
The Atlanta Braves got shut out at home.
It was only the third shutout against this team all year long, and the first one at Truist Park. With it, the Braves joined the 1935 Detroit Tigers and 2001 Seattle Mariners as the only three teams to lead baseball in runs per game, only to be shut out in their first postseason game.
To further add salt to the wound, this shutout didn’t even come at the hands of the top two arms in the Phillies’ staff. It was Ranger Suárez who led the way with 3.2 scoreless, followed by every single high-leverage arm in the Phils’ bullpen. Shoutout to Rob Thomson for not being shy about using his big guns early on, knowing the importance of each spot, regardless of inning. Philly won’t even feel that much of an effect on its bullpen usage, as there will be an off-day on Sunday.
The grand-slam hero from the Wild Card Series, Bryson Stott, got things going for Philly, driving in Bryce Harper with an RBI knock in the fourth. A few innings later, Harper doubled the lead with a solo shot.
Those two runs would be the only blemish on Spencer Strider’s record, as the righty tossed seven masterful innings, earning a Braves’ postseason record 22 whiffs on the night. On almost any other night, the Strider outing would have been more than enough to lead the Braves to a win, but you can’t get the W if you don’t put up any runs.
Ozzie Albies had the Braves’ biggest chance to get back into it, hitting with two on and one out in the eighth, trailing 3-0. However, the Phillies flashed some leather, securing a crucial double play.
Things became a little dicey in the eighth inning after a catcher’s interference call, with the bases loaded, gave the Phillies a third insurance run. Fans threw things at the field, it was a whole thing. Ugly moment aside, it was a full-on party for the Phillies in Game 1.
NLDS Game 1
Arizona Diamondbacks 11, Los Angeles Dodgers 2
(ARI leads series, 1-0)
On a night where the Dodgers celebrated their 100th postseason game at Chavez Ravine, the outcome was beyond even its biggest nightmares as the D-Backs battered their divisional rivals. Clayton Kershaw recorded but a single out on what was undoubtedly the most unfortunate outing of his up-and-down postseason career.
Before Kershaw could even get a single out, the D-Backs were up 5-0 on the backs of this Gabriel Moreno absolute moonshot.
Four of the five first hitters of the game managed to hit balls off at least 109.6 MPH, a ridiculous outlook as Kershaw wasn’t getting anything by the Arizona bats. The future Hall of Famer simply had nothing going.
Much was made of Merrill Kelly’s significant woes against the Dodgers, entering this series with an 0-11 record against LA, but by the time he took the mound, the veteran had a big six-run lead to work with. Emmet Sheehan, who came in relief of Kershaw, gave up another three runs, and by the start of the third inning, the D-Backs held a 9-0 lead. With such a sizeable lead, this game virtually became an exercise in going through the motions without a lot of action.
Alek Thomas made it a full 10 with a solo shot of Michael Grove in the seventh, winning a 14-pitch battle:
It is difficult to find individual standouts when the whole team plays so well. However, one particular bat who deserves a shutout is the veteran Tommy Pham. Pham led the way with a four-hit evening, capped off by a solo homer just around the right-field foul pole, which made it 11-0, at the time.
The Dodgers would go on to avoid the shutout with a pair of runs in the eighth, but nothing that carried any meaning to the potential outcome of this game.