For the 8th straight time, the Phillies have taken game 1 of a playoff series.
The Phillies took a 1-0 series lead against the Diamondbacks with a 5-3 victory tonight. The Phillies got the party started early and often tonight, and then the pitching took them the rest of the way.
Happy Birthday, Bryce!
Normally when it is someone’s birthday they receive gifts, not give them out. On his 31st birthday, Bryce Harper gave the city of Philadelphia the gift of a win. Bryce was incredible yet again, going 2 for 3 with 2 RBI’s including a 1st inning home run. It will not be long until the Diamondbacks just pitch around Harper just about every at-bat, but he made Zac Gallen pay for throwing him a fastball in the first inning. Harper made Gallen pay again with an RBI single to drive in Trea Turner in his next at-bat. Harper was able to jump on pitches early in the count tonight and made Gallen pay each time. With his home run, he is now just 1 home run away from becoming the Phillies’ all-time leader in playoff home runs. This is unbelievable considering this is just his second postseason as a Phillie. Bryce always seems to have a flair for the dramatic, and tonight the greatest showman put on a show yet again.
It was only a matter of time before Kyle Schwarber made his impact in a playoff game and tonight he got the home run party started early. As he has done more times than anyone in playoff history, Schwarber took the first pitch Gallen threw in the game a deposited it in the seats. People have been critical of Schwarber being in the leadoff spot all season, but his ability to put the Phillies up 1-0 on any swing is a trait that not many leadoff hitters possess. Hopefully, that swing will get him going from a power standpoint.
Nick Castellanos kept his title of hottest hitter on the planet going for another game as he hit another home run tonight. Castellanos took a Gallen fastball to the opposite field and hit his fifth home run in just 3 playoff games. He is on a run right now that only “Mr. October” Reggie Jackson has ever matched. Castellanos squared up a few other balls in this game but got unlucky. The Phillies’ big-money players have carried them so far this postseason, and Castellanos has been a big part of that.
Wheeling and Dealing
There are very few pitchers in the MLB that you would be more confident in going into a game with than Zack Wheeler. Wheeler pitched 6 innings while striking out 8 and only allowing 2 runs. Wheeler was exactly what you need out of your ace in a playoff start. While his fastball velocity was a little down, his command made up for it. Wheeler had really great movement on his two-seam fastball and was able to spot it wherever he wanted. He also had great command of his sweeper. When he is painting the corners with those pitches he is virtually un-hittable, and the Diamondbacks found that out tonight. Besides the one pitch to Perdomo that he hit for a home run, the Diamondbacks did not have very much hard contact against Wheeler. Wheeler has been great all postseason long, and after throwing just 81 pitches he should be well rested for his next start.
Keep Your Foot on the Gas
The Phillies thought process over the last two playoffs as the lower seed has been, split the first two and get home tied. That is going to be the Diamondbacks plan as well. If they come back even they did their job, and took away home-field advantage. The Phillies need to use the best home-field advantage in sports tomorrow and keep their foot on the gas in game 2. If the Phillies can head to Arizona up 2-0, their chances of winning this NLCS go up exponentially. Tomorrow is a massive swing game in this series, and the Phillies need to keep the wins rolling.