The Phillies and Braves are tied 1-1 in the first two games of the NLDS. The Philadelphia Phillies finally bring it back to Philly. The last time the Phillies played meaningful baseball at Citizens Bank Park was September 25th. That means 19 days of living out of hotels and playing in front of an opposing team’s home crowd. CBP will be electric, and I hope the red-on-white pinstripes are ready for it. Former World Series hero Shane Victorino will be throwing out the first pitch on Friday night.
This team has surprised and rejuvenated this fan base. September was a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Being swept by the Chicago Cubs and splitting the series with our current opponents, the Atlanta Braves, made us all feel like September of the past five years. If the trip to St.Louis taught us anything, this team has plenty of “Phight” in them.
Cudos to the Phillies faithful who have traveled all year, especially in the post-season. Now it is time to show a younger generation what a sold-out Citizens Bank Park looks like in October. Rally towels flying in the air, and concrete and steel shivering due to the raucous crowd in South Philly. It will be a sold-out crowd every night at CBP. Maybe the current reigning champions’ fanbase can learn from this. They had tickets available and could not give them away is shameful. Especially in the postseason and after winning the World Series.
The NLDS So Far…..
In game one in Atlanta, the Phillies’ bats were alive. The Phillies beat the Braves, 7-6, on Tuesday afternoon, putting them in a good spot in this best-of-five series. The winner of Game 1 in a best-of-five series has gone on to win the series 102 of 144 times (71%).
The Phils strung together four consecutive two-out singles in the first inning against left-hander Max Fried to take a 2-0 lead. Fried’s error and Harper’s sacrifice bunt (yeah, you read that right) led to two more runs in the third. The Phillies lead extended to 4-1. Nick Castellanos’ was the start of game one. He had a two-out single to left field in the fourth (third hit in four innings) and scored two runs to extend the lead to 6-1. Jean Segura’s double, Matt Vierling’s sacrifice bunt, and Edmundo Sosa’s sacrifice fly in the fifth made it 7-1. Philadelphia finished 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position after mustering only two hits with a runner in scoring position in the Wild Card Series.
The Phillies needed to play good defense, too, because the pitching got shaky at times. Ranger Suárez loaded the bases in the first, but Sosa turned an inning-ending double play. Vierling ran down a fly ball with runners on first and second and only one out in the fifth behind Brad Hand. Philadelphia carried a 7-3 lead into the ninth before Eflin allowed a three-run home run to Matt Olson to cut the lead to one. The Phightins were able to hold on to take the first game of the 5 game series after an amazing catch form Nick Castellanos. Only 10 wins left to be a champion.
A Pitchers Duel
The Atlanta Braves broke through against Phillies ace Zack Wheeler with a two-out rally in the sixth inning. Kyle Wright and Zack Wheeler were dueling until that pitching a gem allowed them to take Game 2 by a score of 3-0. That win evens the best-of-five National League Division Series at a game apiece.
Kyle Wright had six scoreless innings against the Phillies. Wright only allowed two hits, struck out six, and walked only one. Of his 83 pitches, 52 were strikes. Wright leaned heavily on his fastball and curve, and he also mixed in his sinker. His 4-seamer was 1 mph slower, making the sinker curve necessary to throw the Phillies off balance.
Wheeler struck out five and walked one, with four hits allowed in six innings of work. Even in the sixth, when the Braves put those three runs on the board. the Braves did their damage with well-placed grounders that eluded the Philly infield defense. (cough cough Hoskins cough).
Phillies Bring It Back to Philly
With the series tied 1-1, this NLDS is now pretty much a best-of-three series with the Phillies holding a home-field advantage (Games 3 and 4 will be at Citizens’ Bank Park, and Game 5, if necessary, will be back in Atlanta).
In Game 3 on Friday, Phillies co-ace Aaron Nola will go for the hosts opposite an Atlanta starter to be determined. The big question is whether rookie right-hander Spencer Strider will be able to make the start. He’s on the Braves’ NLDS roster after being out since mid-September with an oblique injury.
Maybe the 38-year-old Charlie Spencer will be in on the mound for the Braves. Morton has not thrown since October 2nd against the Mets. (The Mets have already been eliminated from the postseason. I love saying that.) Morton has been in big-game situations but has not been as stellar as in the past. In his last outing, he gave up nine hits; three earned runs, 2 homer runs, 1 walk, and 5 strikeouts in 4.1 innings pitched. He has a 4.34 era on the season. Either way, it will be the best thing to happen at CBP in 11 years. The Phillies bring it back home to Philly.
Al is one of the two co-creators of Edge of Philly Sports. Al started radio and podcasting in 2012 and covering sports in 2015. A lifelong Philly sports fan since watching the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers with his grandfathers at age 7. Al always looks at the other side of the hot topics and gives his different outlook on those topics. Web and Graphic Design.