Phillies blow 4-run lead, lose disastrously in Atlanta – NBC Sports Philadelphia

ATLANTA — The first 15 innings of the NLDS couldn’t have gone any better for the Phillies.

After upsetting the Braves in Game 1, they blew a four-run lead in the sixth inning of Game 2.

Their ace was on the mound with a fully loaded bullpen behind him. They shut down the best offense in baseball, one of the best lineups MLB has ever seen.

Then the whole matter came to light.

Zack Wheeler gave up a two-run homer to final hitter Travis D’Arnaud with one out in the seventh inning.

José Alvarado came in and retired three consecutive outs, then replaced right-hander Jeff Hoffman with the right-heavy top of Atlanta’s lineup. Hoffman hit Ronald Acuña Jr. with a pitch, induced Ozzie Albies to groundout, and worked Austin Riley to go 1-2. Hoffman needed one more strikeout to end the eighth inning with the Phillies tied, but Riley completed the count and hit an 89 mph slider that went just wide of the wall in left field for the go-ahead home run. Grabbed more plates.

The game ended with Nick Castellanos drilling the ball to deep right-center which Michael Harris II jumped to catch against the wall. He fired back into the infield and the Braves capped it off by doubling Bryce Harper from first base.

Led 4–0 in Game 2 of the NLDS. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The same thing happened to Cliff Lee and the Phillies in Game 2 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals, a series they lost in heartbreaking fashion.

Hoffman has been very good this season, a significant discovery by the Phillies’ front office, signing him to a minor league deal in the opening week. He posted a 2.41 ERA in 54 appearances and earned the trust of manager Rob Thomson as a right-handed reliever in between innings. Nearly half of his appearances came in “dirty innings” with men. Over and over again, he worked his way out of those jams.

Hoffman has allowed only one run in Atlanta since August 25. He was in a similar position against the top of the Braves order on September 20 and the Phillies also lost an eighth-inning lead that night when Albies and Riley came to him.

This spoiled an impressive start by Wheeler, who held the Braves no-hit for 5⅔ innings and did not allow a ball out of the infield until the fifth. He made a playoff career high of 10.

It’s been a season of déjà vu moments for the Phillies. lean Startup. A low point near Memorial Day. A June change. Bounce in the second half. A wild-card round sweep. A win over a team that has won over 100 games in Game 1 in Atlanta.

The Phillies hoped Game 2 would be different. They had been eliminated at this same venue a year earlier, with Wheeler on the mound and a chance to send the Braves to the brink of elimination.

Now, they will go home tied 1-1, just as they did in 2022 when they won the NLDS in four games.

By the end of the first inning on Monday, he had more runs and hits behind Wheeler than he did in Game 2 last year. Trea Turner doubled and scored on an Alec Boehm single, then the Phillies loaded the bases with singles by JT Realmuto and Castellanos before Atlanta lefty Max Fried homered.

Realmuto led off the crowd with a two-run homer off the Braves bullpen in the third inning.

The fourth run scored when Castellanos singled, stole second, advanced to third on D’Arnaud’s errant throw and scored on a Bryson Stotts sacrifice fly. The Phillies are on a wild run in the postseason. He is 9 of 10 stealing bases in the four playoff games and 7 of 8 in the NLDS alone. He took five more extra bases by reacting quickly to dirt pitches.

It seemed that a combination of starting pitching, small ball, and timely home runs would put them in a strong position as the series shifted to Philadelphia. Instead, they will simply board the flight home with a split, an outcome that may seem satisfactory to start the series but that will not sit well given how close they were to getting off the plane on Monday night.

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