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The NLCS is now a best-of-five series. Wednesday afternoon, the San Diego Padres rallied to erase an early 4-0 deficit in Game 2 against the Philadelphia Phillies, eventually earning an 8-5 win (box score). The best-of-seven series is tied 1-1 as it heads to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Friday.
Historically, teams that have taken a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series 84 percent of the time, so the Padres avoided a significant series deficit with the Game 2 win. The offense put together one of the biggest innings in franchise postseason history, and the bullpen closed the game out without making things too interesting.
Here are five takeaways from Game 2 of the NLCS and a look ahead to what’s next.
Hard contact generally leads to good things, but well-placed is better than well-struck. The Phillies put a four spot on the board against Blake Snell in the second inning, all thanks to soft contact. It helped that Juan Soto , turning a sacrifice fly into a double, and that Brandon Drury muffed a potential double play ball and settled for one out.
The Phillies put seven balls in play that inning and only two registered an exit velocity north of 85 mph, and none north of 96 mph. They sent eight men to the plate that inning and four saw at least six pitches, and three saw at least seven. Snell followed his six-pitch first inning with a 37-pitch second. An early four-run inning creates good vibes, no doubt.
To Snell’s credit, he settled down after getting dinked and dunked in the second inning, and retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced. He managed to complete five innings with 89 total pitches, so he was very good and efficient outside that one bad inning. Snell’s ability to regain control after that four-run second inning paved the way for San Diego’s comeback.
San Diego scored their first two runs of the NLCS on consecutive pitches as Drury and Josh Bell clubbed back-to-back home runs against Aaron Nola to open the bottom of the second, an immediate answer to Philadelphia’s four-run frame. Here are the first runs the Padres scored in the NLCS:
Drury and Bell are the third set of Padres to hit back-to-back homers in the postseason, joining Tony Gwynn and Greg Vaughn in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series and Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado in Game 1 of the 2020 World Series.
Those two runs were the first two earned runs Nola allowed in October. He threw 6 2/3 shutout innings in his final regular season start on Oct. 2, 6 2/3 shutout innings in his Wild Card Series start on Oct. 8, and then he surrendered one unearned run in six innings his NLDS start on six innings on Oct. 14. That’s a nice run for the younger Nola brother. Speaking of …
For the first time in history, two brothers faced each other as a hitter and pitcher in the postseason as Austin Nola grounded out against younger brother Aaron in his first at-bat of Game 2. Next time up, he lashed a single to right-center that scored Ha-Seong Kim all the way from first base to cut the deficit to 4-3. Few things in baseball are more beautiful than a successful hit-and-run.
Aaron’s outing ended later in that fifth inning, so Austin finished 1 for 2 against his brother. Their parents, A.J. and Stacie, were of course in the stands. Papa Nola was wearing an Austin jersey under an Aaron jersey, while Mama Nola opted to go with the plain T-shirt. Who do you root for as a parent when your two kids are facing each other not just in a game, but directly as a pitcher and hitter? What a wild scenario.
To be clear, plenty of other sets of brothers have been played in the same postseason series, though the Nolas are the first to face each other as a hitter and pitcher. Most recently, .
The thing about a second inning 4-0 lead is the other team has plenty of time to get back into the game. Drury and Bell cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second, then the Padres took control of the game with a five-run fifth inning. It is tied for the most runs the Padres have ever scored in a single postseason inning.
Four of the first five hitters (Aaron) Nola faced in that fifth inning had hits, including (Austin) Nola and Soto in two-strike counts. That’s why you gut the farm system to get the 23-year-old generational hitter, so he can help you slay the Dodgers dragon and also come up with clutch game-tying hits in the NLCS. Soto can change the game at any moment.
According to Inside Edge, Nola has given up five hits in 0-2 counts this postseason after allowing 11 such hits the entire regular season. Soto’s double to right tied the game 4-4, then lefty reliever Brad Hand let things get away when he hit Jake Cronenworth with a two-strike pitch, and allowed back-to-back RBI singles to Drury and Bell. Here is the full five-run rally:
The @Padres have scored SEVEN unanswered runs! #postseason pic.twitter.com/d4TysVsDgM
The Padres went 6 for 9 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch in that five-run fifth inning, and three Phillies pitchers combined the throw 46 pitches. Late solo homers by Machado and Rhys Hoskins capped the scoring as three Padres relievers — Nick Martinez, Robert Suárez and Josh Hader — kept the Phillies in check in the final four innings to seal the win. Hader, who suddenly looks like his old self again, is the first pitcher in MLB postseason history to strike out 8 consecutive batters, according to OptaSTATS.
It came in a losing effort, but Bryce Harper went 2 for 4 with a double in Game 2, extending his extra-base hit streak to seven games. That ties Carlos Beltrán (2004) and Devon White (1993) for the longest such streaks in a single postseason. That said, with a runner on in the eighth, Harper grounded into a double play in what was Philadelphia’s last best chance to get back into the game. That was a missed opportunity.
Overall, Harper is 13 for 31 (.419) with four doubles and four homers in eight games this postseason. He didn’t look quite like himself initially after returning from his broken thumb on Aug. 26, but he certainly looks healthy now.
Thursday is an off day — it’s the only off day of the NLCS — then the series will resume at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Friday night. That’s a 7:37 p.m. ET start and the scheduled starting pitchers are lefty Ranger Suárez (10-7, 3.65 ERA) and Wild Card Series hero Joe Musgrove (10-7, 2.93 ERA). Historically, teams that take a 2-1 lead in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series 71 percent of the time. Game 3 is an important swing game.
Strike a pose 📸 #CaptureTheMoment pic.twitter.com/PDbF33Gc2I
Game tWo is ours! #CaptureTheMoment pic.twitter.com/EqEnyLqBZO
Josh Hader of the @Padres is the first pitcher in MLB postseason history to strike out 8 consecutive batters.
The NLCS is now a best-of-five series. Game 3 is Friday in Philadelphia.
FINAL: #Padres 8, Phillies 5#CaptureTheMoment #PadresWin pic.twitter.com/1GKeH7byYD
FINAL: Padres 8, Phillies 5
The NLCS is tied, 1-1. Maybe, hopefully, five games and several roller coaster rides to go.
Wil Myers, defensive replacement is a funny one (but also the correct move).
It’s Josh Hader coming on for the top of the ninth. If he does his job, it’s a 1-1 series lead after two very fun, very competitive and very different games. Lots of potential for entertainment in this one and it’s delivered in bunches so far.
Tag yourself, we’re @JuanSoto25_ pointing to Manny. pic.twitter.com/XOAo9yhStp
Bryce Harper hits into a double play and the Padres are in much better shape now. Four outs before giving up three runs doesn’t seem like that tall a hill to climb.
Why would anything in this one be easy? Padres are gonna have to sweat it out.
It’s right back to a three-run deficit at 8-5 after the Rhys Hoskins HR
Hoskins with a dinger. It’s 8-5 in the eighth. Not over yet.
They only scored one with the Machado blast, but the traffic meant another long inning. It’s been close to 3 1/2 hours, heading to the eighth …. and not a person there is worried about it. They are having the time of their lives.
Like we said, no doubter. pic.twitter.com/eXH7S6hLau
NO DOUBT ABOUT IT 💣 #CaptureTheMoment pic.twitter.com/UnBGWaCFGG
It’s 8-4. That ball was pretty well destroyed to left center. He’s been swinging such a good bat this postseason. Even his outs seem hit on the screws.
Obviously the three-run lead this late means they have a high win expectancy, but also, Robert Suarez for the eighth and Josh Hader for the ninth are both well-rested and will have a day off tomorrow. It *should* be smooth sailing.
most consecutive games with at least 1 extra-base hit, single postseason:
2022 Bryce Harper: 7
2004 Carlos Beltrán: 7
1993 Devon White: 7
MANNY. MACHADO. #CaptureTheMoment pic.twitter.com/u5lUrhyAe4
Just did get Segura, and so it’ll remain 7-4.
Drury is a whole mood rn. pic.twitter.com/Bh7EIgWHmH
We’ll see if the Phillies can get him across and cut the lead to two.
Leadoff double here in the sixth. Phillies trail by three.
Aaron Nola gives up another hit in an 0-2 count.
He allowed 11 hits in the regular season in 0-2 counts.
Batters in the Postseason? They are 5-for-8, including tonight, against 0-2 Nola pitches.#RingTheBell | #CaptureTheMoment | #Postseason pic.twitter.com/2YoeEFl3AP
That means the Padres have an 89.9 percent chance of winning Game 2
Grisham just expanded his zone to swing at ball four with the bases loaded. Rough.
44-pitch inning for three Phillies pitchers so far
I believe Mr. Axisa mentioned earlier that the 2022 Phillies feel like the 2019 Nationals. These 2022 Padres feel a bit like last year’s World Series champions. Without their young superstar, the Braves won it all last year after revamping at the deadline. The Padres’ trade deadline additions — Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury — are more high-profile than the Braves’ moves, but the feeling is similar. No pearls, though, just geese.
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