The crowd at Truist Park was ready to erupt all night. Sadly, they never got the chance to as the Braves were shutout at home for the first time all year. Strider more than gave them a chance, but one of the most historic offense's in baseball history only produced five singles on the night in Atlanta's 3-0 defeat.
The Phillies came out swinging as Schwarber lined a double to the gap on the first pitch of the game. Schwarber then made a baserunning blunder on Trea Turner's groundball to shortstop, as Arcia fired to third base and Riley applied the tag to record the first out.
Turner took second on a pitch in the dirt and Harper got an infield single to put runners on the corners with just one out. Thankfully, Strider was able to escape the jam by getting a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Alec Bohm.
The historically great Braves offense went down rather quickly in the bottom of the first as Ranger Suárez set down the side in order. Strider got his first strikeout by getting Bryson Stott swinging to open up the second. Philadelphia got another baserunner when a Strider fastball grazed Realmuto's knuckles.
However, Sean Murphy then showcased why he was brought over from Oakland, when he gunned down Realmuto attempting to steal second base. Strider got the next out and we were off to the bottom half of the inning.
The Braves then got their baserunner via a leadoff walk to Ozzie Albies. JT Realmuto then returned the favor as the Phillies closed out the inning with a strike 'em out throw 'em out. This wasn't without a little controversy though as the close call at second base was overturned with a successful Phillies challenge.
Both teams went quietly in the third frame as both starting pitchers had it working. Each team's lineup flipped over in the fourth as Turner led off the inning with a groundout. The always dangerous Bryce Harper worked a one-out walk.
Strider got himself into trouble when he made an errant pickoff throw to first base to allow Harper to get into scoring position. Stott immediately made him pay with a two-out hit that plated the first run of the game. Realmuto got an AB with RISP after Stott stole second, but Strider blew him away with a fastball.
In his second AB, Ronald Acuña Jr. made another first pitch out start the bottom of the fourth. The Braves finally got their first hit of the evening on an opposite field single from Matt Olson. Albies followed with with an infield dribbler that brought forth a bang-bang play at second.
Originally, the call at second was out, but after review they overturned the call and ruled Matt Olson safe. that inspired a pitching change as Marcell Ozuna came up with runners in scoring postion. The first to come out the Phillies bullpen was Jeff Hoffman. He issued a walk to Ozuna to load the bases for Michael Harris II. In the biggest spot of the game Hoffman came with a big pitch to strikeout MH2 on a splitter just below the zone.
Strider issued his second walk to Marsh, with one-out in the fifth. Philadelphia continued their ultra aggressive tendencies on the basepaths as Marsh swiped second base. Thankfully, Strider threw a beautiful slider to Schwarber for an inning-ending strikeout.
Next out for the Phillies bullpen was hard-throwing righty Seranthony Dominguez. Orlando Arcia greeted him rudely with a solid single the other way to start things. After a strikeout of Murphy, Eddie Rosario saw his first action of the playoffs, as he pinch hit for Pillar and promptly laced a single up the middle.
This gave Atlanta their best scoring opportunity of the night so far, with runners on first and third with one out for NL MVP frontrunner Ronald Acuña Jr. Unfortunately, Dominguez made a perfect 1-2 pitch and caught Ronald looking. The scoring chance was wasted as Riley went down swinging on a 98 mph fastball right down broadway and the Braves trailed 1-0 entering the sixth.
Strider was dealing on the night but gave up an absolute missile to Bryce Harper with one out in the sixth. Harper's 115 mph solo shot gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead, but Strider did finish the inning with no further damage. The hard throwing lefty, Jose Alvarado was next out the Philly bullpen and worked around a bloop hit from Ozzie for a scoreless sixth.
The Braves' mustached flamethrower ended his evening with a bang, as he retired the bottom of the Phillies in order. Strider registered 22 swings and misses on the night via baseball savant, the most in Braves history since pitch tracking began.
Phillies rookie Orion Kerkering was the next in the pecking order and came out for the bottom of the seventh, and he worked an impressive eight-pitch frame. One of the most prolific offenses in MLB history was scoreless through seven innings.
Despite Strider's best efforts to remain in the game, manager Brian Snitker went to A.J. Minter to face the top of the Phillies lineup in the eighth. He got Schwarber swinging to start, but Turner followed that with a single up the middle. The Phillies then continued to implement their stolen base motive as Trea stole second and third. Harper worked a walk and forced Minter out the game.
Out came the acquired deadline reliever, Pierce Johnson to try and work out of runners on the corners and one out. Johnson made three beautiful curveballs to Bohm, but was unable to get Stott to fish and walked him to load the bases for Realmuto. This parlayed into some of the biggest controversy of the night.
On a 2-1 pitch Realmuto fouled off a curveball from Johnson. However, the home plate umpire ruled catchers interference on the pitch and awarded Realmuto first, thus plating the Phillies third run. The Braves challenged the call, but ultimately the play stood as called.
Some fans were greatly displeased and began to throw trash on the field. Honestly, it wasn't a good look for Braves fans, but thankfully it got cleaned up rather quickly. The inning continued on and Johnson got Castellanos to groundout to end the inning.
Kerkering was back out for the eighth to face the top of the Braves lineup. He abruptly issued a four pitch walk to Ronald, and that was the end of his night. The Phillies went to Matt Strahm to face the heart of the Braves lineup. Riley greeted him with a single to left, and brought the MLB home run champ up as the tying run.
It was a battle, but eventually Olson just missed a 3-2 fastball a flew out center. Next, Trea Turner made an unbelievable play on a 103 mph ground ball from Ozzie as he dove to his left and flipped to second to start a double play to keep the shutout in tact.
Atlanta closer came out for the ninth and worked a perfect half inning. That set the stage for former Braves' closer Craig Kimbrel to come on and try to nail down the postseason save. Kimbrel kept the excellent pitching together for three final outs and sent the biggest crowd in Truist Park history home very disappointed.
Pitchers of Record
W: PHI: Jeff Hoffman: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
L: ATL: Spencer Strider: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
PHI: Harper (1)
A.J. Minter: 0.,1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Pierce Johnson: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Raisel Iglesias: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
October 9th, 2023 vs. PHI 6:07 PM EST