The Atlanta Braves‘ most powerful collection of sluggers in baseball finally got going, perhaps just in time to preserve the season.
With the addition of a history-making double play that ended the game, thanks to a spectacular catch by Michael Harris II and some cunning placement by Austin Riley, this 104-win club went from being in dire straits to exuding some postseason swagger.
The Atlanta Braves stunned the Philadelphia Phillies 5-4 on Monday night after coming back from a four-run hole. The victory evened the National League Division Series at one victory apiece. Travis d’Arnaud and Riley both hit two-run home runs in the victory.
With his rocket into the left-field seats in the seventh inning, D’Arnaud, who took over at catcher for the struggling Sean Murphy, gave the Braves some optimism. Philadelphia’s advantage was now 4-3.
It was the series’ first extra-base hit for Atlanta.
With two outs in the eighth, Riley provided the second, hitting a 3-2 ball from Jeff Hoffman (0-1) into the Phillies bullpen to give the Braves their first lead in the best-of-five series. After being hit on the left arm by Hoffman’s first pitch coming in from the bullpen, Ronald Acua Jr. scored ahead of Riley.
It came to an equally astonishing finale. Nick Castellanos drove a ball to deep right-center field with Bryce Harper on board, but Harris made a spectacular leaping catch and slammed into the fence to rob him.
When Harris made the grab, Harper had already rounded second base. In his desperate attempt to turn around, Ozzie Albies at second base was passed by the throwback to the infield. Riley quickly backed up the play, though, and threw a quick pass to first to complete the double play.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first postseason game in baseball history to end on a double play involving an outfielder.
The entire series is wrapped up in a flash. Wednesday in Philadelphia is the third game.
Rob Thomson, the manager of the Phillies, commented on Harper’s poor baserunning.
Riley followed suit, backing up on a play that he had never anticipated being a part of.
The winner was A.J. Minter (1-0), while Raisel Iglesias recorded his first playoff save.
The Phillies established a 4-0 lead thanks to Zack Wheeler’s dominance against a lineup that led the majors in runs scored and tied a major league record with 307 home runs. In the third inning against Max Fried, J.T. Realmuto blasted a two-run home run, sandwiched between Alec Bohm’s run-scoring single and Bryson Stott’s sacrifice fly.
Wheeler, who was close to Truist Park where he was born and bred, was one strike away from finishing the sixth inning without giving up a hit. Albies lined a single to right after he walked Acua after leading 1-2 in the count.
When the throw back to the infield bounced off Trea Turner’s glove for the shortstop’s second error of the game, Acua, who was holding up at third, sprinted home.
In the first two innings, Wheeler struck out the side twice, and the Braves only connected on 12 of 26 strikes. The only baserunner was Matt Olson, who came around when Turner fumbled a routine grounder to the shortstop.
Unless you consider the Hammer, Brush, Paint Can, and Drill racing around the warning track as part of the Home Depot Tool Race, the home team didn’t even get one of the infield through the first four innings.