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The Atlanta Braves broke through against Philadelphia Philles ace Zack Wheeler with a two-out rally in the sixth inning, and that plus the excellent pitching of Kyle Wright 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.
The series now shifts to Philly for Game 3 on Friday. The winner of this series will advance to the NLCS to face either the Dodgers or Padres.
Now for some takeaways from Game 2.
After Max Fried’s shaky outing in Game 1, the Braves needed a good outing from Game 2 starter Kyle Wright. He gave them that and then some. Wright twirled six scoreless innings against the Phillies, and along the way he allowed two hits, struck out six, and walked only one. Of his 83 pitches, 52 went for strikes. In suffocating the Phillies, Wright leaned heavily on his fastball and curve, and he also mixed in his sinker. That was essential, since Wright’s four-seamer in Game 2 was down about a full mph relative to his regular-season average fastball velocity.
In terms of 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), Wright put up a 73. Just twice during the regular season did he exceed that figure, and those two starts came against the Pirates and Marlins – two lineups that can’t compare to Philly’s.
Wheeler was dominant in his Wild Card Series start against the Cardinals, and during the regular season he racked up 25 strikeouts against only one walk in his three starts against Atlanta. He pitched in a similar vein on Wednesday in Game 2, as he 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, they never squared him up and instead did their damage with well-placed grounders that eluded the Philly infield defense.
Speaking of which, the Braves may have salvaged the series with that bottom of the sixth. Five straight runners reached base with two outs, which is something the Braves managed to do just five times during the 162-game regular season.
Wheeler retired the first two batters of the frame, but then Ronald Acuña Jr. reached when a pitch from Wheeler drilled him on his right elbow. Dansby Swanson then walked, and Matt Olson singled and plated Acuña on a pull-side grounder that first baseman Rhys Hoskins couldn’t quite secure. Austin Riley kept with the theme, as he singled on a soft dribbler to Wheeler down the third-base line that scored Swanson. Finally, Travis d’Arnaud singled on a ground ball up the middle to bring Olson home with the third and final run of the game. That was margin enough for the Atlanta bullpen.
Schwarber during the regular season was a force for Philly, as he put up a 130 OPS+ and led the NL with 46 homers. These playoffs, however, have yet to be kind to him. He went 0 for 7 with four strikeouts in the Wild Card Series against St. Louis, and in Game 1 against the Braves he was 0 for 5 with a strikeout. Add in what he did in the Game 2 loss – 0 for 4 with three strikeouts – and he’s now 0 for 16 with eight strikeouts in the 2022 postseason. Needles to say, the Phillies need their top slugger to find his level back at home.
With the series tied 1-1, this NLDS is now in essence a best-of-three affair with the Phillies’ holding home-field advantage (Games 3 and 4 will be at Citizens’ Bank Park, and Game 5, if necessary, will be back in suburban 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.
One of my favorite nights ever at Truist Park. The energy in that stadium tonight was as good as I’ve ever seen it. Great win by the boys!
Kyle Wright and Dansby Swanson NLDS Game 2 Live Postgame Press Conference #Back2Battle
Kyle Wright and the Braves bullpen dominated (with some defensive help).
📺 Bally Sports South + Bally Sports Southeast
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we’ll never be given what’s rightfully ours
we have to take it#Back2Battle pic.twitter.com/OuxtXdgtA5
Brian Snitker NLDS Game 2 Live Postgame Press Conference #Back2Battle https://t.co/XQoVsTwq5X
Gotta show the bullpen some love!#Back2Battle pic.twitter.com/3pPiiHbL8S
.@Braves WIN!#Back2Battle pic.twitter.com/ncqnnCtfFZ
FINAL: Braves 3, Phillies 0
Braves win 3-0 for real this time. Series heads back to Phillies tied 1-1.
Game 2 = Braves WIN!@TruistNews | #Back2Battle pic.twitter.com/WEV9wLyTzZ
Replay says the ball hit the net before the catch. Bryce Harper’s at-bat continue. Would be something if the Phillies came back now.
Wait wait, they say that foul pop up hit the net before d’Arnaud caught it for the final out. The game is not over yet.
3-0 is the final score. All three runs came in the sixth inning against Zack Wheeler, who was dominant in the first five innings. The best-of-five series is now tied 1-1 as it heads back to Phillies. Game 3 is Friday.
Needs three outs before giving up three runs to send the series to Philadelphia tied 1-1.
HOLY SMOKES! WHAT A CATCH! pic.twitter.com/ZyMKq9VcK9
Yeah, @austinriley1308 just did that 😱#Back2Battle pic.twitter.com/eJr5cHqWAd
They still lead 3-0. Phillies on the verge of losing their first game this postseason.
AUSTIN 3:16 SAYS I JUST CAUGHT THAT@austinriley1308 | #Back2Battle pic.twitter.com/uADBs5a8GC
Crashing into the tarp Nolan Arenado style. Amazing he held onto that ball. He snowconed it and then hit the tarp hard.
That was an aggressively pimped fly out for Marcell Ozuna. He looks like an idiot and we get to laugh at him. I don’t understand why people complain about hitters pimping non-homers.
Keep bringing the energy, @Braves Country! pic.twitter.com/SZLlCl3Xxy
Six shutout innings on 83 pitches. AJ Minter is in against the middle of the lineup with Atlanta leading 3-0. Minter to Iglesias to Kenley would appear to be the formula the rest of the way.
.@Kyle_Wright44 was dominant tonight!#Back2Battle pic.twitter.com/Dzwb1z0Nkc
Make it five straight batters who’ve reached. d’Arnaud singles up the middle against his old batterymate with the Mets. It’s 3-0 Braves.
Just how we drew it up 😎@austinriley1308 | #Back2Battle pic.twitter.com/Bvrqzqs3L7
With an infield single. Whatever works. It’s 2-0 Braves. Still just one out in the sixth. Four straight batters have reached after only one of the first 18 reached against Wheeler.
Matty O!@mattolson21 | #Back2Battle pic.twitter.com/iKWT4vLqHD
Olson’s grounder eats up Hoskins at first base and goes into right for a single and a 1-0 lead. A Major League first baseman has to make that play, or at least keep it on the infield and prevent the runner from scoring.
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