Upon Further Review The Phillies Salvage The Last Game Of The Opening Set Vs Braves

The Opener

The Phillies and Braves had to wait a little longer to get their 2024 season underway. Thursday’s home and season opener was postponed due to forecasted rain in the area. So, Friday the Braves and Phillies kicked off their seasons.

It’s just the first game of a long season, of course. Atlanta still has six months to figure out how to best the Phillies in those final October games after losses the last two years have proved fatal to the Braves’ World Series goals. Matt Olson tied a career-high with three doubles, including a bases-loaded drive in a seven-run eighth inning. That rallied the NL East champion Braves past Philadelphia 9-3 in Friday’s season opener.

Michael Harris II had three hits and snapped an eighth-inning tie with an RBI single off José Alvarado (0-1) that made it 3-2 and ignited a breakout inning. Alvarado allowed five runs and Connor Brogdon gave up two. Pierce Johnson (1-0) tossed a scoreless seventh to earn the win for Atlanta in a game delayed a day by rain.

Braves manager Brian Snitker insisted his team was excited about any win. Because it was needed, not necessarily because it was a potential table-setter toward a third straight October showdown. Brandon Marsh hit a two-run homer for the Phillies. The late collapse in the Phillies’ 142nd opener wasted a strong outing for ace Zack Wheeler.

Wheeler struck out five and walked none over 89 pitches and six shutout innings in his first opening-day start. He took a no-decision when Adam Duvall ripped a two-RBI double to left off Matt Strahm in the seventh that tied the game 2-2.

Strider and Wheeler

Braves ace Spencer Strider, a 20-game winner last season, tossed only five innings and surrendered Marsh’s shot to left in the fifth. Strider pitched to derisive chants of “Stri-der! Stri-der!” from 44,452 full-throated Phillies fans already in postseason form.

The Phillies and Braves are entrenched in one of baseball’s most intense rivalries in the last few years. The Braves are the class of the division with six straight NL East titles and the 2021 World Series.

The Phillies earned a wild-card berth out of the division the last two seasons. And eliminated the Braves at Citizens Bank Park in each of the last two seasons in the NL Division Series. The Phillies missed a World Series ring after losing to Houston in 2022. And blowing a 3-2 lead in a seven-game loss to Arizona in last season’s NL Championship Series.

Perhaps no player on Atlanta illustrated the tale of two seasons quite like Strider. In the regular season, Strider entered 8-0 with a 1.90 ERA against the Phillies. In the postseason, Strider has a 0-3 record with an ERA of 5.40 against Philadelphia.

Wild Card Flag

In an odd sign of the times, the Phillies unveiled a powder blue 2023 flag ahead of the opener to win a wild card spot. The Phillies had only raised two red flags. 1980 and 2008 World Series titles; blue flags for NL pennants; and white for division crowns.

The Braves will send LHP Max Fried to the mound against Phillies RHP Aaron Nola. Nola had started the last six openers, the longest streak for a Phillies pitcher since Steve Carlton made 10 consecutive opening-day starts from 1977-86.

Game 2

Ozzie Albies, Matt Olson, Marcell Ozuna, and Michael Harris II all homered. And an expected battle of aces fizzled early in the Atlanta Braves’ 12-4 win over the Phillies on Saturday. A 14-game winner in 2021 and 2022. Atlanta’s Max Fried lasted only seven batters, walked three, and got just two outs before he was chased in the first inning trailing 3-2.

No worries for the Braves. The Phillies Aaron Nola was even worse. In the right-hander’s first regular-season start since he signed a seven-year, 172-million-dollar deal to stay with the Phillies. Nola (0-1) had one of the worst outings of his career. He surrendered homers to Albies and Olson as part of the 12 hits he gave up in just 4 1/3 innings. Nola allowed seven runs on another blustery day in front of 44,068 fans expecting a pitchers’ duel.

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Same Old Thing

The Braves battered Nola — who had made six straight opening-day starts — and five more Phillies pitchers for 19 hits a day after the NL East champs scored seven runs in the eighth inning of a 9-3 win in the season opener. Nola held his glove in hand, his head down, as he sauntered off the mound in the fifth. It’s only two games, but in Philly, there’s already boos at the ballpark, social media malaise, and concern over the state of the pitching staff.

The Game

The Phillies made it 3-2 in the first on the strength of a double-steal — led by burly home run hitter Kyle Schwarber, who swiped his first bag since Game 1 of the 2022 World Series. Hey, the Phillies lost that series, too. And now they’ll lose this one to the Braves, again the frontrunners to emerge as the class of the NL East in the regular season.

J.T. Realmuto homered for the Phillies. Jess Chavez (1-0) pitched three innings out of the bullpen to pick up the win. Maybe it was the 27-minute rain delay that caused the game to be wonky from the start. The game only went downhill for the Phillies. Alec Bohm made an error on the first batter of the game and Albies followed with a homer. Harper then put a scare in all of Philadelphia when he chased down a foul ball cartwheeled over a railing and plopped into a photographer well. He was fine.

Ronald Acuña Jr., Albies, Harris, and Ozuna all had three hits. Ozuna added three RBI. Much like the Braves bust the game open off Philadelphia’s bullpen in the opener, they scored four runs in the sixth of two relievers. When Harris homered in the rain in the ninth off reliever Conor Brogdon, a Phillies fan yelled, “Put Nola back in!” Why make it worse?

The Braves will send LHP Chris Sale (6-5, 4.30 ERA in 2023) to the mound against Phillies LHP Ranger Suarez (4-6, 4.18 ERA). Sale makes his first start for Atlanta since he was acquired in a December trade with Boston. Sale helped the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2018 but has made just 56 starts in the last four years.

The Finale

Thanks to a second look on replay. The Phillies got a second shot at a rally and averted a sweep against the NL East champs. Trea Turner capitalized with a tying hit after a third out that was overturned on replay and Alec Bohm followed with a two-run single in a three-run seventh inning to rally the Phillies over the Braves 5-4 on Sunday.

The win settled some nerves among the grumbling sports faithful in Philly after Atlanta decisively won the first two games. Atlanta was on course for a three-game sweep until a replay review in the seventh denied the Braves a third out.

Leading 3-2 behind a strong outing from Chris Sale in his Braves’ debut, reliever Aaron Bummer (0-1) seemingly got John Rojas to ground into an inning-ending double play. But a second look showed Rojas was safe and overturned the call by first base umpire Clint Vondrak as the third straight sellout crowd roared in approval.

Offense Wakes Up

Kyle Schwarber, who opened the game with his 32nd career leadoff homer, singled to put two runners on base. Turner — who also stole his 36th straight base — punched the tying single to right and Bohm followed with a two-RBI single that diving left fielder Adam Duvall could not snag, giving the Phillies a 5-3 lead.

Gregory Soto’s first pitch in the eighth retired Matt Olson on a flyout and left the tying run on third. After the Braves closed within a run. José Alvarado, who allowed five runs and took the loss on opening day, worked the ninth for the save.

Ranger Suárez and five relievers held the Braves to just seven hits after they put in 32 hits, 10 doubles, and 14 extra-base hits in the first two games. Matt Strahm (1-0) tossed a scoreless seventh for the win.

The fortuitous circumstances that sparked the Phillies’ first win were enough to make them exhale. So was the news that slugging first baseman Bryce Harper was seemingly fine a day after a hard tumble over a railing in foul territory. Harper did get the day off against a tough lefty in Sale. Sale allowed two runs, and five hits and struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings in his first start since an offseason trade with Boston. If he can stay healthy, Sale should prove a potent addition to Atlanta’s rotation.

Sale

Atlanta took a gamble on the lefty given Sale’s injury-filled career. He has made just 31 starts over the last four seasons in Boston, including 20 last season when he went 6-5 with a 4.30 ERA in 102 2/3 innings.

Sale, who signed a $38 million, two-year deal after landing in Atlanta, joined a rotation that includes 2023 All-Stars Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder, longtime ace Max Fried, and 40-year-old Charlie Morton.

Sale impressed in the fifth after he allowed only one run to score after loading the bases with no outs. He retired Schwarber on a double play and struck out Turner to end the threat and help Atlanta keep a 3-2 lead. A game after the Braves hit four homers, Ozzie Albies had a two-run shot in the first for the early lead. Adam Duvall tacked on an RBI double in the fourth that boosted the advantage to 3-1.

The Phillies host the Reds for three games starting Monday. The Phillies send LHP Christopher Sanchez (3-5, 3.44) to the mound against LHP Andrew Abbott (8-6, 3.87).

Matt Bednarczyk
Matt Bednarczyk

Matt Bednarczyk is your host of Talking Philly Sports With Matty B. He is a proud retired US Army Sergeant First Class, he is also a combat veteran with over 80 months served in Afganistan, and Iraq . Huge Hockey Fan. Matt is a lifelong 4 for 4 Philly sports fan. Born and raised on the Mayfair and Tacony neighborhood lines of Northeast Philly. He brings over 40 years of Philadelphia Sports passion and provides a realistic look at our Major Sports Teams and the most passionate sports fans on the planet. Look for his show live on Edge of Philly Sports.

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