Braves vs. Phillies score: Takeaways as Philadelphia survives bullpen meltdown in NLDS Game 1

The Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday defeated the Atlanta Braves by a score of 7-6 in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. The Phillies now have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series, and are 3-0 this postseason including their two-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild-card round. The outcome means the reigning-champion Braves, who won 101 games and the NL East title during the regular season, will be desperate for a victory in Wednesday’s Game 2.

Braves starter Max Fried struggled badly, and the Phillies strung together multiple two-out rallies. On offense, Atlanta had their chances but weren’t able to convert often enough despite a good deal of traffic on the bases — at least until the final frame.

For the Phillies, Nick Castellanos gathered three hits and three RBI, and Seranthony Domínguez worked two perfect innings in relief. Overall, the Philly bullpen retired 11 straight at one point, but the Braves broke through in the ninth against Zach Eflin for three runs. Eflin and the Phillies, however, were able to avert disaster and hold on for the win.

Now for some takeaways from Game 1.

The Braves made it (very) interesting in the bottom of the ninth

The Phillies led 7-3 going into the bottom of the ninth, which gave them something close to a 99 percent chance of winning the game. Then the Braves opened the frame with back-to-back singles before Eflin notched a strikeout for the first out. With a single swing, slugger Matt Olson brought the Braves within a single run:

That made the score 7-6 and obviously put the Phillies’ designs on an easy Game 1 in great peril. The next batter, William Contreras, lifted a bloop into right, but fortunately for the Phillies Castellanos was on the case:

Castellanos is a well-established liability in the field, but he came through in a huge way for the second out of the inning. If that ball scoots under his glove, then Contreras is in scoring position — and possibly on third base — with one out. Instead, the Phillies had two outs with the bases empty. Eflin was then able to retire Travis d’Arnaud on a grounder to end the threat one run shy of miracle status.

Max Fried didn’t have it

The Braves tabbed the All-Star lefty Fried to start Game 1 with ample reason. During the regular season, Fried put up an ERA of 2.48 with a similarly sparking K/BB ratio of 5.31 in 185 ⅓ innings. Yes, the Phillies’ lineup this season has been adept at handling left-handed pitching, but Fried during the regular season fared quite well against them (an ERA of 3.13 with no unearned runs allowed and 25 strikeouts against five unintentional walks in 23 innings over four starts).

Well, to say the least, Tuesday did not go as Fried and the Braves had hoped:

Not surprising in light of those numbers is that the Philly bats were not the least bit fooled in Game 1:

During the regular season, Fried’s shortest start was five innings, and his season-high for runs allowed in a start was five way back on April 7, his first outing of the season. As for Game Score, which is a quick-and-dirty Bill James metric that measures a pitcher’s dominance or lack thereof in a given start (50 is average and anything 90 or higher is an absolute gem), Fried’s worst mark during the regular season was 37 on, again, April 7. In Game 1 against Philly, Fried’s Game Score was 25. He hasn’t reached those depths since his start against the Marlins on April 13 of last year.

For whatever it’s worth – and it may be worth nothing at all – Fried came into this one on ten days of rest since his last start on Sept. 30.

Travis d’Arnaud brought the playoff power once again

Let’s give the Braves something positive from this one, shall we? Veteran catcher Travis d’Arnaud got the Braves on the board in the second with this home run off Phillies starter Ranger Suárez:

That blast gives d’Arnaud eight home runs in 49 career postseason games with the Mets, Rays, and Braves. And that puts him on the following all-time catcher leaderboard:

Across his 10-year MLB career, d’Arnaud has averaged 22 home runs per 162 games played, and this season he hit a career-high 18 spanks in 107 games for Atlanta. That’s good pop, especially by positional standards. Said good pop was on full display early in Game 1. As well, d’Arnaud notched a two-RBI double in the fifth that brought the Braves within punching distance.

The Phillies are now in a good spot

Historically, teams that take Game 1 of a best-of-five MLB playoff series go on to win that series 71.3 percent of the time. Teams that steal Game 1 on the road of a best-of-five, as the Phillies did, go on to win that series 71.7 percent of the time. That last figure is significant because it says that even presumptive series underdogs – usually the team that starts the series on the road – have fared just as well after winning the first game of the series.

Specific to this series, this is significant for the Phillies because they won a game in which their No. 3 starters opposed the Braves no. 1st case starter. Now the Phillies will have their tandem aces, Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, lined up to start the next two games on full rest.

Speaking of which, Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday with first pitch at 4:35 pm ET back at Truist Park. Wheeler will go for the Phillies against the Braves’ Kyle Wright in a duel of right-handers.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.