The Braves are taking on the Phillies for the series rubber match. Atlanta went down easily in game one but bounced back in a near-perfect game two. Game three was a back and forth battle.
The Phillies came out patient, drawing two walks. Elder followed, getting a critical double play, which moved Schwarber to third. With two outs, Bohm fouled a ball back just out of the reach of Murphy. On the next pitch, the third basemen hit a single to left, putting the Phillies up 1-0. Elder had trouble initially hitting the zone, issuing his third walk of the inning. To get the third out, Nicky Lopez made a great play to save a run and throw out Marsh at first.
Aaron Nola came out aggressive, with Acuña drilling a ball right at Schwarber in left, then Albies striking out. Batting .438 coming into the day against the Nola, Austin Riley came into the box. Yet, Riley went down in three pitches on a wicked knuckle curve and two fourseamers.
Elder's pitching struggles continued into the second, giving up a solo home run to Castellanos, and bringing the score to 2-0 Phillies. A true fan caught a ball barehanded (with a kid in his other arm) and immediately threw it back to the infield dirt. That must have been what the Braves needed, as Elder returned with three innocent fly-outs.
Philadelphia stayed hot defensively. After three consecutive 1-2-3 innings from Nola, Atlanta had trouble getting momentum early. On the other side of the diamond, Philly returned with a two-run homer from Castellanos for his second of the day, putting it at 4-0. A fifth walk surpassed Elder's season-high, with only one out into the fourth. One pop-out later, it was the end of the day for Bryce, as Jesse Chavez made his first appearance since June 14th. Chavez returned, getting a ground out on his first pitch to end the inning.
The first hit for Atlanta came in the bottom of the fourth when Acuña knocked a single to center field. With Ronald on base, Nola started rushing his pitches, allowing Ozzie to push a ball through the shift, putting runners at first and second. Austin Riley followed with no outs, quickly going down 0-2, then striking out for his second time of the day.
However, a pitch later, Matt Olson hit a single into right, bringing home a run and keeping runners at first and second. The runners moved up on a wild pitch before Ozuna smoked a ball right at Turner for the second out. Nola kept the score at 4-1, striking out Rosario, but finally showed some wear on the mound.
Chavez went back out in the fifth inning, throwing two outs on four pitches. He gave up his first hit as Alec Bohm singled to right, but grounded out Byrson Stott two pitches later. The Braves bats started to find their stride in the fifth. For his first hit since the Miami series, Michael Harris II ripped a double to right center.
Chipping away at the Philly lead, Nicky Lopez smacked a single to bring Harris home. Two pitches later, Lopez stole second with Acuña at the plate. He made it to third on a swinging bunt before Ozzie just missed a two-run homer that went foul. Nevertheless, Nola made it through five innings for the first time in three consecutive starts by striking out Albies for the final out.
The top of the sixth saw Chavez return for his third inning. He did give up a walk to Brandon Marsh, who reached third, stealing on a ball thrown into the outfield. No damage would come, as he was able to get through the next two batters, ending the inning. Jesse looked fully back in form, getting seven outs easily through the Phillies' lineup.
Not much would accrue in the bottom of the sixth or the seventh. Brad Hand replaced Chavez, retiring the side in order, and keeping the Braves in striking distance. Yet the bats could not get any traction on Alvarado, who returned the favor. Pierce Johnson came in relief for the top of the eighth, getting all three outs. The bullpen looked great filling in for Elder, keeping the score at 4-2.
The bottom of the eight was the best chance for Atlanta to attempt to tie things up. Acuña started striking out on a slider, but Albies followed with a double on a hanging curve. Riley, who had struck out thrice swinging, went down again 0-2. He fought off some tough pitches, and then he pushed a ball through the gap, bringing home Albies. Olson followed, hitting a ground ball up the middle, and was robbed of moving the runner forward on a great defensive play by Trea Turner.
Luckily, the Braves have the Big Bear, who smashed a ball off the right field wall. Running home, Olson tied the game while Ozuna reached second. Now a brand new ball game, the inning ended with a Kevin Pillar strikeout, but a new life for the Bravos.
The top of the ninth saw Raisel Iglesias pitch through the first three Philly batters to return the Braves lineup. Atlanta had not walked off since June 8th and was in a prime position to do so. Murphy got to a 3-0 count after Craig Kimbrel had a pitch clock violation, eventually leading to the potential winning run at first. In the first pitch against Harris, pinch runner Luke Williams stole second with no outs. Kimbrel struck out Harris, but Williams then stole third on the first pitch to Arcia. Unfortunately, Arica popped out to Castellanos, who made a great throw to home for the inning-ending double play.
With the game tied, fans were treated to some free baseball. A.J. Minter walked Schwarber to put runners at first and second. Next at bat, Trea Turner hit a soft ground ball to Riley, forcing the out at third and then throwing Turner out at first. In a high-stakes inning, Minter walked Harper on a full count to bring up Bohm. Both runners stole second and third, leading to an intentional walk.
Bohm has hit very well vs. Minter, and with two balls, Snitker played the odds to walk Alec. Bryson Stott must have taken offense, and shot a ball down the line, bringing home two runners to make it 6-4. Minter would walk the bases loaded but struck out Castellanos to bring the top of the Braves order up.
Matt Strahm looked to get the save for the Phillies, as Acuña moved Arcia up on a ground out. The Braves scored a run in a sacrifice fly from Albies, making it 6-5. The run helped chip away at the lead, bringing up Riley. Down to their final out, no comeback would come to fruition as Austin flew out to end the game.
The Braves lost a close match that traded plenty of jabs. Although Bryce Elder struggled mightly with his command, the middle bullpen was excellent in keeping the game close. As the Braves continue to do, they chipped away at the lead, eventually tying it up. Castellanos won the game for the Phillies with two homers and an outfielder assist at home, preventing the Braves from taking the lead. However, the luck ran out in the tenth with a timely hit from Stott, and Philly just focused on getting the final three outs.
Pitchers of Record
L: A.J. Minter: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 9 NPIT
W: Craig Kimbrel: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 14 NPIT
Bryce Elder: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 0 K, 72 NPIT
Jesse Chavez: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 25 NPIT
Brad Hand: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 10 NPIT
Pierce Johnson: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 9 NPIT
Raisel Iglesias: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 9 NPIT
Castellanos ( 26, 27 )
September 21th @ Washington Nationals, 7:05 p.m. EST on BSSE