The National League Division Series kicks off Saturday night at Truist Park, and just like last year, the Philadelphia Phillies take Game 1 on the road from the Atlanta Braves (PHI 3, ATL 0). The first game of last season was a chaotic scoring affair. The first game of the year was even tighter, with clutch defense and pitching dominating the night.
Bryce Harper has scored in Philadelphia’s first two games in very different ways. In the fourth inning, he walked the bases loaded, advanced to second when Spencer Strider threw out a catcher, and then pitched in on Bryson Stott ) scored on two outs and two hits. In the sixth inning, Harper launched a solo home run missile. His bat speed reached 115 mph. Look at this explosion:
In the past two playoffs, Harper went 10-for-18 with three homers against the Braves. He tortured them. Harper and Stout combined to go 4-for-5 in Game 1 with a home run and three runs batted in. The rest of the Phillies went 2-for-26 (.077).
The left-handed Ranger Suarez started and faced the minimum through three innings, but once the Braves threatened in the fourth, manager Rob Thomson went to his bullpen. Jeff Hoffman, Seranthony Domínguez, José Alvarado, Orion Kerkering, Matt Six relievers, including Matt Strahm and Craig Kimbrel, held the Braves scoreless over the final 5 1/3 innings.
The biggest out of the game came in the eighth inning when Trea Turner made a great diving stop to start an inning-ending double with runners on the corners. Game 1 was the first time in more than two years since August 28, 2021 that the Warriors were shut out at home.
The Phillies currently lead 1-0 in the best-of-three series. Historically, the team that wins the first game in a best-of-five series has a 71% chance of winning the series. With Sunday being an off day, Philadelphia will get the ball in the hands of ace Zach Wheeler in Game 2 on Monday. Atlanta will start their ace Max Fried, even though he hasn’t played since Sept. 21 with a blister.
Atlanta won an MLB-best 104 games in the regular season. They must win Game 2 to avoid heading to Citizens Bank Park down 2-0 in the NLDS.