11 year ago, the Phillies were stunned in their home ballpark as they lost Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Now, flashforward to today, the Phillies have flipped the script.
Five days after clinching their first playoff berth since 2011 and spraying champagne in Houston, the Phillies popped corks again as they advanced to the National Lague Division Series with a 2-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the National League wild-card series Busch Stadium.
The Phillies won the best-of-three series in two games. They will face a familiar competitor, the NL East Champion Atlanta Braves in the NLDS. Game 1 of that best-of-five series begins Tuesday night in Atlanta.
It will be the Phillies’ fourth trip to Atlanta this season. They went 8-11 against the Braves. Left-hander Ranger Suarez will be ready to go in Game 1 for the Phils.
Aaron Nola followed Zack Wheeler’s Game 1 excellence with 6.2 scoreless innings in Saturday night’s series clincher. The right-hander scattered four hits, walked one, and struck out six. Nola departed with a runner on first base in the seventh. Jose Alvarado came in and ended the inning then gave up a walk with one out in the eighth.
With the game on the line, manager Rob Thomson went to right-hander Seranthony Dominguez as Albert Pujols was coming to the plate. Dominguez gave up a single to Pujols to bring the potential go-ahead run to the plate then registered the two biggest outs of his life on strikeouts of Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, the two best Cardinal hitters.
Zach Eflin got the final three outs to save Nola’s win.
Nola is a big-game pitcher. The longest-tenured Phillie retired the first 20 batters he faced in Monday night’s playoff clincher, then came back five days later and delivered in the first postseason start of his career.
Nola got an early run thanks to a solo homer by Bryce Harper against Miles Mikolas in the second inning. It was Harper’s first postseason home run as a Phillie. The right-hander Mikolas hung a first-pitch breaking ball and Harper picked it up immediately as he sent the ball 435 feet into the right-field seats.
The homer was Harper’s first since September 24 and just his fourth in 36 games since coming off the injured list on August 26.
The Phillies added a second run in the fifth inning when Alec Bohm doubled against Mikolas, moved up on a bunt by Brandon Marsh, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Schwarber.
With the loss for the Cardinals, their season is over. And so are the careers of future Hall-of-Famers Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina. Both had previously said this would be their last season. Sad to see them go, but it’s good to see the Phillies get their revenge on them from 2011.
So, it’s NLDS time in Atlanta.
Is a party on Broad Street still a possibility? We’ll see.
Game 1: Tuesday.