On the first day of the National League Championship Series, the Philadelphia Phillies clinched a 5-3 triumph over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
In the present NL champion’s arsenal, Kyle Schwarber, Bryce Harper, and Nick Castellanos contributed three early home runs. Furthermore, Zack Galen, experiencing a first in his professional journey, conceded three home runs within the initial two innings of the game.
On the other hand, Philadelphia’s starting pitcher, Jack Wheeler, continued his strong performance after the regular season. He maintained the lead for Rob Thompson’s bullpen despite some uncertainties.
Holding a 1-0 advantage in this seven-game series, the Phillies find themselves just three victories shy of making a back-to-back appearance in the World Series. Prior to their comeback victory in Game 1, the Diamondbacks were struggling, trailing 5-0 in the postseason.
Schwarber Makes History After the Season
Philadelphia’s slugger and leadoff hitter, Kyle Schwarber, wasted no time getting things started in Game 1. He attacked Zack Galen’s first-pitch fastball and sent it deep into the evening:
He unleashed a 117.1 mph (!) fastball and made a 420-foot journey for a 1-0 Phillies lead. Schwarber’s home run marked his fourth career leadoff homer, which Langs noted was an all-time record. In total, it was Schwarber’s 16th career postseason homer in 59 postseason games.
After two batters, Bryce Harper also homered on Galen’s first-pitch fastball on his 31st birthday, giving the Phillies a quick 2-0 lead.
Castellanos Stays Hot – Historically Hot
Philadelphia’s warrior-poet, Nick Castellanos, had produced two home runs in each of the previous two NLDS games against the Braves. In the opening match of the NLCS, he struck gold once again:
This marked Castellanos’ fifth home run, this time against the final eight Braves batters in the third inning of the NLDS Game 3, as we ventured back into postseason action. Casti was on a tear! More impressively, Castellanos joined the ranks of Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson – Mr. October himself – by hitting five home runs in just three games after the season.
Playing with the playoff deities, he was. Moreover, Castellanos’ home run meant that the 2023 Phillies had hit 12 home runs in three games, which is a playoff record.
Wheeler Did What He Needed to Do
Wheeler pitched effectively during Game 1, providing the Phillies with six innings.
During that period, he permitted merely three hits and achieved the feat of tallying eight runs without issuing a single walk.
He heavily relied on his fastball, which was well-extended to increase his velocity, and generated a total of 17 whiffs. At one point, Wheeler retired 15 batters consecutively. Geraldo Perdomo contributed two runs to the sixth inning’s home run. However, Perdomo’s average in home runs was just .140, so from Wheeler’s perspective, some tough luck was involved.
Wheeler’s start began with 51 strikeouts and eight walks in his eight postseason games with a career ERA of 2.59. His Game 1 effort continues the trend of excellence after the regular season.
Diamondbacks in a Tough Spot Right Now
In this best-of-seven series, the Diamondbacks are currently trailing 0-1.
Now, what can we glean from past scenarios like this? In every best-of-seven MLB postseason series, the team that drops Game 1 away from home tends to lose the series around 68.5% of the time.
These same teams also lose Game 2 in roughly 55.6% of cases. However, if they manage to clinch a victory in Game 2, the Diamondbacks would flip the script in this seven-game series, shifting the advantage away from the Phillies. So, indeed, Tuesday’s matchup promises to be a high-stakes affair.
Next: Game 2 on Tuesday
The pivotal second game of the series in Philly will feature the Diamondbacks’ co-ace Aaron Nola facing off against Merrill Kelly.
Kelly has launched his NLDS campaign against the Dodgers with a compelling performance, whereas Nola proudly flaunts an exceptional 1.42 ERA across two starts, encompassing 12 2/3 innings for this season.
Following their victory in Game 1, the Phillies have solidified their impressive playoff record at Citizens Bank Park, now standing at 27-11, and maintaining a perfect 5-0 record at home for the current season.
Phillies 5, Diamondbacks 3
The game concludes with a double-header, which packs a powerful punch, ending up in Bohm’s hands in right field.
The Phillies have seized a 1-0 advantage in the seven-game National League Championship Series, marked by their trio of home runs and an initial 5-0 lead before the Diamondbacks initiated their comeback in Philadelphia.
Credit the Diamondbacks for not giving up, but there’s no moral victory here. We’ll do it all over again in another pitching duel last night when Aaron Nola and Merrill Kelly go head to head.
Gabriel Moreno is at the plate, and he’s swinging a hot power bat, so getting him there was crucial when there were no runners on base and a two-run lead.