College Football Pick’em
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The Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday defeated the Atlanta Braves by a score of 7-6 in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. The Phillies now have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series, and are 3-0 this postseason including their two-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild-card round. The outcome means the reigning-champion Braves, who won 101 games and the NL East title during the regular season, will be desperate for a victory in Wednesday’s Game 2.
Braves starter Max Fried struggled badly, and the Phillies strung together multiple two-out rallies. On offense, Atlanta had their chances but weren’t able to convert often enough despite a good deal of traffic on the bases — at least until the final frame.
For the Phillies, Nick Castellanos gathered three hits and three RBI, and Seranthony Domínguez worked two perfect innings in relief. Overall, the Philly bullpen retired 11 straight at one point, but the Braves broke through in the ninth against Zach Eflin for three runs. Eflin and the Phillies, however, were able to avert disaster and hold on for the win.
Now for some takeaways from Game 1.
The Phillies led 7-3 going into the bottom of the ninth, which gave them something close to a 99 percent chance of winning the game. Then the Braves opened the frame with back-to-back singles before Eflin notched a strikeout for the first out. With a single swing, slugger Matt Olson brought the Braves within a single run:
Matt Olson delivers in the 9th! 😱#Postseason pic.twitter.com/eSEPFvdPUs
That made the score 7-6 and obviously put the Phillies’ designs on an easy Game 1 in great peril. The next batter, William Contreras, lifted a bloop into right, but fortunately for the Phillies Castellanos was on the case:
WHAT A CATCH BY CASTELLANOS 😱
📺: FOX and the FOX Sports App pic.twitter.com/1pBhTON484
Castellanos is a well-established liability in the field, but he came through in a huge way for the second out of inning. If that ball scoots under his glove, then Contreras is in scoring position — and possibly on third base — with one out. Instead, the Phillies had two outs with the bases empty. Eflin was then able to retire Travis d’Arnaud on a grounder to end the threat one run shy of miracle status.
The Braves tabbed the All-Star lefty Fried to start Game 1 with ample cause. During the regular season, Fried put up an ERA of 2.48 with a similarly sparking K/BB ratio of 5.31 in 185 ⅓ innings. Yes, the Phillies’ lineup this season has been adept at handling left-handed pitching, but Fried during the regular season fared quite well against them (an ERA of 3.13 with no unearned runs allowed and 25 strikeouts against five unintentional walks in 23 innings over four starts).
Well, to say the least, Tuesday did not go as Fried and the Braves had hoped:
Not surprising in light of those numbers is that the Philly bats were not the least bit fooled in Game 1:
The Phillies whiffed on just six of 32 swings against Fried. Eight of 17 balls put in play against Fried had an exit velocity above 95 mph. Fried’s fastball touched 95.6 mph but averaged just 92.7 mph down from 94.0 mph in the regular season.
During the regular season, Fried’s shortest start was five innings, and his season-high for runs allowed in a start was five way back yonder on April 7, his first outing of the season. As for Game Score, which is a quick-and-dirty Bill James metric that measures a pitcher’s dominance or lack thereof in a given start (50 is average and anything 90 or higher is an absolute gem), Fried’s worst mark during the regular season was 37 on, again, April 7. In Game 1 against Philly, Fried’s Game Score was 25. He hasn’t reached those depths since his start against the Marlins on April 13 of last year.
For whatever it’s worth – and it may be worth nothing at all – Fried came into this one on ten days of rest since his last start on Sept. 30.
Let’s give the Braves something positive from this one, shall we? Veteran catcher Travis d’Arnaud got the Braves on the board in the second with this home run off Phillies starter Ranger Suárez:
That blast gives d’Arnaud eight home runs in 49 career postseason games with the Mets, Rays, and Braves. And that puts him on the following all-time catcher leaderboard:
most HR as catcher, postseason history:
Jorge Posada: 11
Jason Varitek: 11
Johnny Bench: 10
Javy Lopez: 10
Yogi Berra: 9
Travis d’Arnaud: 8
Across his 10-year MLB career, d’Arnaud has averaged 22 home runs per 162 games played, and this season he hit a career-high 18 spanks in 107 games for Atlanta. That’s good pop, especially by positional standards. Said good pop was on full display early in Game 1. As well, d’Arnaud in the fifth notched a two-RBI double that brought the Braves within punching distance.
Historically, teams that take Game 1 of a best-of-five MLB playoff series go on to win that series 71.3 percent of the time. Teams that steal Game 1 on the road of a best-of-fiver, as the Phillies did, go on to win that series 71.7 percent of the time. That last figure is significant because it says that even presumptive series underdogs – usually the team that begins the series on the road – have fared just as well after winning the first game of the series.
Specific to this series, this is significant for the Phillies because they won a game in which their No. 3 starter opposed the Braves No. 1-ish starter. Now the Phillies will have their tandem aces, Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, lined up to start the next two games on full rest.
Speaking of which, Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday with first pitch at 4:35 p.m. ET back at Truist Park. Wheeler will go for the Phillies against the Braves’ Kyle Wright in a duel of right-handers.
The Nick Castellanos Game.#RingTheBell x @chevrolet pic.twitter.com/b2lUsy9y9O
mood right now pic.twitter.com/dMf8XeqvjF
Also NICK CASTELLANOS ARE YOU KIDDING WITH THIS CATCH pic.twitter.com/MLpgZnDLel
Obvious statement is obvious: winning Fried vs. Suárez with Wheeler and Nola coming up is rather huge for the Fightin’s.
The defending champs are trailing 1-0 in the best-of-five NLDS
Ring it.#RingTheBell pic.twitter.com/S2tiOWk9iQ
Final: Phillies 7, #Braves 6.
William Contreras just hit a dying quail to right field that looked like it would get down, but maligned right fielder Nick Castellanos made a diving catch
👀@mattolson21 | #Back2Battle pic.twitter.com/ZUTdKqOZ0E
Holy smokes. Matt Olson with a home run to dead center field. I just mentioned a three-run shot wouldn’t even tie it and then he hit it. The Phillies need two outs before the Braves score a run to tie it. High drama in Atlanta, all of a sudden.
HUGE K for Eflin. Now a grounder ends the game. Even a three-run HR doesn’t tie it for the Braves, so Eflin is fine to pitch to contact now.
Acuña and Swanson single to start the ninth and the Braves are in business. They need four to tie, though.
In all likelihood, this paves the way for Eflin in the ninth. The Phillies still have a 7-3 lead. The high-scoring affair has been all zeroes since the fifth
Great outing for Seranthony Domínguez. Six up, six down on only 18 pitches against the top of the lineup. Now the Phillies only have to cobble together six outs from Alvarado and Eflin.
And it’s the sixth inning. The first round provided a lot of faster games. This one isn’t joining the fray.
Orland Arcia walks, so there are two on and one out for Michael Harris and the Phillies are going to the bullpen again. A LONG way to go here.
Travis d’Arnaud doubles to drive two home and it’s 7-3. Some might proclaim it’s a “brand new ballgame.” d’Arnaud has all three Braves RBI.
William Contreras doubles and it’s runners on second and third with one out. Will they be able to convert this time? They’ve left seven runners on base and the only run was a solo homer.
The Phillies strike again. The “small ball” will get the headlines for people who love it, but a double started things off.
That’s seven left on base through four innings. Dansby Swanson has struck out three times. It’s 6-1 Phillies.
This guy. pic.twitter.com/d6Any1FXnV
Clutch Nick pic.twitter.com/YiEMZKV8dW
Castellanos with the two-out knock to plate two. It’s 6-1 Phillies. The final line for Max Fried:
3.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
It’s worth mention that the error (the reason two runs were unearned) was by Fried himself.
That was a nasty, nasty pitch to strike out Realmuto. Chavez backdoored a two-seamer to get a huge strikeout.
The Braves have left four men on base through three innings and trail 4-1.
The Braves had them loaded in the first inning and failed to score. They are loaded here with two outs for d’Arnaud, who homered last time
Braves starter Max Fried was removed here with one out in the fourth, so 3 1/3 innings. His shortest outing during the regular season was five innings (five different times)
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