Could the Phillies pull this off? Coming into this series, everyone agreed the Braves were the better team. And it is hard to argue against that. They were arguably the best team in Baseball from June forward. The Phillies were large underdogs today. But none of that mattered in Game 1.
The Phillies jumped on Braves Ace Max Fried early. They put up two quick runs off of Nick Castellanos and Alec Bohm singles. Then in the 3rd they drove in 2 more. In the next inning, they added another 2 runs. They put up 6 runs overall on Fried, with 4 of them earned. Fried was chased from the game in the 4th inning. And the Phillies scored 7 runs overall on the Braves pitchers. For a lineup that had struggled to put up runs, they gave Ranger Suarez an early lead. And speaking of struggling, Nick Castellanos woke up and provided 3 hits and 3 RBIs today. Oh, and he flashed the glove and made a great play to steal a hit from the Braves in the 9th inning.
Speaking of Ranger, he gave an admirable performance. Would you have liked him to pitch more innings? Of course. But he battled. He held a dangerous Braves lineup to 1 run. And he pitched his way out of multiple jams, albeit of his own making. He outpitched Max Fried. Whereas Fried put his team in an early hole, Ranger kept the Phillies out of it.
But perhaps the true stars of the pitching staff were SerAnthony Dominguez and Jose Alvarado. Between the two of them, they threw 3 perfect innings. SerAnthony faced the top of the lineup and struck out two of them. And then he came back for the 7th inning and went 1-2-3 again. Then Jose Alvarado finished what SerAnthony started after requesting a long break to fix the pitching mound. SerAnthony in particular was phenomenal. After struggling at the end of the year, he has been a revelation in the postseason. In game 2 against the Cardinals he faced the heart of the Cardinals lineup and shut the door. And he did the same today.
And now the Phillies did what they had to do. They stole one in Atlanta. At worst they will return to Philadelphia with the series tied. And with Zack Wheeler on the mound, who is to say they don’t come back to Philly up 2-0? And unlike Atlanta, the Phillies will actually sell out their stadium for a playoff game. It is going to be a packed, and loud Citizens Bank Park crowd on Friday for Game 3. And with Nola on the mound, it is easy to see the Phillies winning the first game back in Philly.
The Phillies can steal this series. Underdogs or not, they find themselves in the driver’s seat of this series. They need two more wins to advance, and they have their two best starters coming up. The Braves threw out their Ace today, and he faltered. But as we saw in the first series, Wheeler and Nola are up for playoff baseball. And if this game was a sign that the Phillies lineup is waking up? Man, watch out for those Fighting Phillies.