Bryce Harper Didn’t Need to Say Anything in NLDS Win

The “Look” might become the next iconic moment in baseball. As he rounded second base following a pair of home runs, Philadelphia Phillies superstar Bryce Harper glared at Atlanta Braves shortstop Orlando Arcia, who had reportedly mocked him for getting doubled off at first base to end game two of the National League Division series. Harper said he didn’t say anything and he didn’t need to. He said it all with his bat as the Phillies took a two games to-one lead in the best-of-five series with a 10-2 win at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night.

Excellent Pitching

Aaron Nola was excellent in another big game; he pitched into the sixth inning and gave up just two runs on six hits with one walk. He struck out nine, perhaps none bigger than the one that ended the third inning and a Braves scoring threat.

As a team, the Phillies tied a record with six home runs in a postseason game. Nick Castellanos joined Harper by going deep twice. They are the seventh and eighth Phillies to home twice in a postseason game and just the fourth set of teammates to go yard in the same game in MLB history. It’s the third time in four years the feat has been accomplished. The first time it happened was in 1932, and the teammates were Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

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Let the Onslaught Begin

Through two innings, Braves starting pitcher Bryce Elder struck out four of the first six hitters he faced as he set the Phillies down in order, but then a sudden change occurred, and Elder didn’t survive the third inning. The Phils exploded for six runs in the frame, with the biggest blow coming off the bat of – who else? – Harper, but it was Castellanos who got it started. The Phillies right fielder blasted Elder’s second pitch – a high sinker – into the seats in left. It energized the crowd, which had become concerned after the Braves took a 1-0 lead in the top half of the inning on a double by Ronald Acuna Jr. Ozzie Albies promptly knocked him in with a single to right. After Castellanos tied it, Brandon Marsh singled.

Two outs later, he was on second when Trea Turner lived on an infield hit. Then Harper strode to the plate. When Elder hung a slider, the two-time National League MVP punished it, the ball went 408 feet and landed in the second deck of the right field seats, and the sellout crowd of 45,798 quickly went from concerned to unglued. The Phils weren’t done, as both Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott reached on a single and a walk, respectively. Stott’s bases on balls signaled the end for Elder. J.T. Realmuto’s double-off of relief pitcher Michael Tonkin plated the pair and capped the scoring.

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After getting Marcell Ozuna on strikes with two on and two to end the Braves threat in the third, Nola had the classic shutdown inning in the fourth. He set down the NL East champions in order on 11 pitches.

Piling On the Homers

The Phillies added four solo homers over the rest of the game. Harper’s second was to center field just to the left of the 401 mark. Turner hit one in the sixth, while Castellanos and Marsh went back-to-back in the eighth.

Harper’s Motivation

“It’s a super competitive game that we play,” said Harper when asked if he was motivated by Arcia’s comments. “It’s a reason why we play this game. And there’s nothing like it. Everybody’s competitive that we play against, and I just really enjoy those moments and the opportunity to play this game and have those moments.”

“Just keep playing our game,” said Haper about having the 104-win Braves on the brink of elimination. “We know they’re really good, and they’re not going to fall down or die or anything like that. They’re a really, really good organization, a really good team, and we’ve seen that all year from them. But we have a crowd that’s 45,000 strong, and we’re very excited to go into tomorrow and play a great game.”

Nola Reactions

“It was big,” Nola said referring to the strikeout of Ozuna to end the third inning. “It was big. I felt like if I could have commanded my curveball, we had a good chance to get him out. So, anything kind of hanging and pops with the breaking stuff, he hits pretty well. So that’s kind of what we talked about, what we wanted to do there. It was going to be a fastball, curveball, and where we wanted it.”

“Especially against the Braves,” said Nola about his mindset with a big lead, “we’ve faced them so many times, I really try to pitch like it’s zero-zero. That’s kind of how you have to do it against this team because they are pretty strong from one through nine in their order. But I just wanted to stay focused and make my pitches and get ahead of them and get that leadoff hitter out, because they can run the bases pretty well, too. “

Rock Hoffman
Rock Hoffman

Rock Hoffman has been covering sports in the Philadelphia region for over 30 years. He’s been the co-host of a radio show – SportsPage – on the Delaware Valley Radio Network (WRDV.org) in the time. He’s reported on games involving all the Philadelphia teams at the profession and collegiate levels. During his career he’s provided coverage for a Super Bowl, an All-Star Game, NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games as well NFL, MLB and NHL playoff games. Additionally, he’s the College Football Editor for Football Stories Magazine (FootballStories.com).

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