Phillies bounce back at home, take two of three from Braves
On Monday night, Bryson Stott sent a baseball far into the nighttime sky, setting the tone for a successful series with the Atlanta Braves. In all honesty, the Phillies had no business coming out on top to start the series. They had sloppy defense and a lack of offense early on. And if it wasn’t for Bryson Stott’s game-one heroics, the outcome of this series would have been a whole lot different.
So was this just a sporadically lucky series win versus a good team, or did the Phillies prove that they can beat the best of the best across the league?
Hopefully, the type of performance the Phillies displayed over the past three days is a glimpse of what’s to come once October arrives. It only takes one swing of the bat to win a game, and the 2022 Phillies are built to make that happen.
Ranger Suarez made his second start since being reinstated from the IL on Monday. He allowed three runs in the second inning, but none of them were earned. Rhys Hoskins missed a throw from Johan Camargo across the diamond as he awkwardly stretched away from the ball, allowing two runs to score.
One more run crossed the plate, but that was the only offensive production the Braves generated against Ranger Suarez through his five innings of work.
The Phillies tied it up in the bottom of the second thanks to RBI from Bryson Stott and J.T. Realmuto. But their lead did not last for long. Marcell Ozuna hit a perfectly-placed swinging bunt down the third-base line to give the Braves their lead back.
Despite the Phillies being behind, Connor Brogdon, Jose Alvarado, and Andrew Bellatti each contributed an inning out of the ‘pen to keep the Phillies within striking distance.
Following Alec Bohm and Yairo Munoz’s back-to-back two-out singles, Bryson Stott lifted a three-run homer into the stands. A.J. Minter, the Braves reliever that allowed the home run, let a full-count fastball leak up and in on Stott. And with Stott’s quick two-strike approach, he did not miss it.
Seranthony Dominguez quickly shut down the Braves in the ninth, and the Phillies left the Bank on Monday night after squeaking out a 6-4 win against the Braves.
Aaron Nola was not at his best in game two, and unfortunately for the Phillies, Spencer Strider was at his very best. Strider attacked the zone with his fastball and utilized all of the plate. He rarely used his slider, but when he did, the Phils’ hitters were off-balanced and way out in front.
Aaron Nola struck out seven Braves and pitched six innings, but the Braves scored five runs against him, while the Phillies were only able to put up one run—a Kyle Schwarber solo home run—on the board against Strider.
J.T. Realmuto hit a two-run home run off Will Smith in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough to spark a comeback.
Wednesday’s rubber match got off to a slow start, but after being held scoreless for four innings, the Phillies figured out the trick to get to Charlie Morton.
Alec Bohm, Odubel Herrera, and J.T. Realmuto each hit RBI singles to keep the offense going in the fifth.
Kyle Gibson wasn’t his sharpest, but he gave the Phillies six innings of two-run baseball. Matt Olson hit a towering two-run home run off Gibson, but he did not make too many other mistakes.
Alec Bohm and Didi Gregorius helped the Phillies add on two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, and the Phillies’ bullpen was able to wrap up the 7-2 victory with ease.
Playing with confidence
Alec Bohm and J.T. Realmuto have carried the Phillies through their last two series, and it has not depended on whether their teammates are playing well alongside them.
Alec Bohm has raised his season average to .293 since he has a .519/.536/.630 slash line in his last seven games. He has only struck out four times in 27 at-bats, and he has driven in four runs.
Rob Thomson told reporters that he has noticed that Alec Bohm has been “…swinging the bat with authority.”
And during this stretch, Bohm has seen increased power, too. He is hitting the ball in the air more but can still adjust to a contact-focused swing when the appropriate situation arises.
And J.T. Realmuto has not been slacking either. In his last nine games, he has a .438 average and two home runs. He has been excellent with runners in scoring position as he’s driven nine runs in during this nine-game span.
And just like Alec Bohm, a good portion of his success comes from his mindset. But for Realmuto, his confidence is the key.
“Hitting is a game of confidence and I’m feeling a lot more confident than I was earlier in the season… This was an important series,” Realmuto said. “I wanted to be out there after the Cubs series. It was really important for us to pick up some momentum.”
Defense is relevant, and you cannot argue otherwise
Games one and three were decided by defense in this series, and for the first time in what feels like forever, the Phillies were not always the ones being embarrassed.
Game one was pathetic—Rhys Hoskins bobbled a groundball and made an unathletic stretch that caused him to miss the ball. Three unearned runs scored, and the Phillies should have won that game by a much wider margin.
And in game three, it was the Braves’ mistakes defensively that helped the Phillies. And if this series reminded you of anything, you remembered that defense wins championships.
The Phillies will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Pirates in a four-game series.