braves vs. Phillies takeaways: Atlanta ties NLDS behind Olson, Riley, d’Arnaud’s bats

The Atlanta Braves broke through against Philadelphia Philles ace Zack Wheeler with a two-out rally in the sixth inning, plus Kyle Wright’s excellent pitching enabled them to win Game 2 with a score of 3-0. That win evens the best-of-five National League Division Series in one game.

The series now shifts to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Friday. The winner of this series advances to the NLCS to face either the Dodgers or Padres.

Now for some Game 2 takeaways.

Kyle Wright threw a gem

After Max Fried’s shaky performance in Game 1, the Braves needed a good performance from Game 2 starter Kyle Wright. He gave them that and then some. Wright turned six scoreless innings against the Phillies, and along the way gave up two basehits, struckout six and walked only one. Of his 83 pitches, 52 went for strikes. In choking the Phillies, Wright relied heavily on his fastball and curve, and he also interfered with his sinker. That was essential, as Wright’s four-seamer dropped about a full mph in Game 2 from his regular-season average fastball speed.

In terms of Game Score, a quick and dirty Bill James stat that measures a pitcher’s dominance or lack thereof in any given start (50 is average and anything 90 or above is an absolute gem), Wright posted a 73. Only twice during the regular season did he surpass that number, and those two starts came against the Pirates and Marlins – two lineups unlike any of Philly.

Zack Wheeler was almost as good

Wheeler was dominant in his Wild Card Series start against the Cardinals, striking out 25 batters during the regular season against only one walk in his three starts against Atlanta. He pitched the same way on Wednesday in Game 2, as he struckout five batters and walked one with four basehits allowed in six innings of work. Even in the sixth, when the Braves gave up those three runs, they never got it right and instead caused their damage with well-placed grounders dodging the Philly infield-defense.

The Braves put in an unbelievably big inning in the sixth

Speaking of which, the Braves may have saved the series with that bottom one of the sixth. Five straight runners reached base with two outs, something the Braves managed to do only five times during the 162 game regular season.

Wheeler retired the first two batters of the frame, but then Ronald Acuña Jr. the base when a pitch from Wheeler bore him on his right elbow. Dansby Swanson then walked and Matt Olson singled and grounded Acuña at the plate on a pull-side grounder that couldn’t quite secure first baseman Rhys Hoskins. Austin Riley stuck with the theme, as he singled on a soft dribbler to Wheeler down the third baseline that Swanson scored. Finally, Travis d’Arnaud singled on a ground ball through the middle to bring Olson home with the third and final run of the game. That was margin enough for the Atlanta bullpen.

Kyle Schwarber’s battle continues

Schwarber during the regular season was a strength for Philly, as he racked up a 130 OPS+ and led the NL with 46 homeruns. These playoffs should still be nice to him though. He went 0 for 7 with four strikeouts in the Wild Card Series against St. Louis, and in Game 1 against the Braves he was 0 for 5 with a strikeout. Add to that what he did in the loss of Game 2 – 0 for 4 with three strikeouts – and he now stands 0 for 16 with eight strikeouts in the postseason of 2022. Needless to say, the Phillies need their top slugger to keep up with their level at home. to find back.

It’s basically a best-of-three series now

With the series now at 1-1, this NLDS is now essentially a best-of-three affair with the Phillies home advantage (Games 3 and 4 take place in Citizens’ Bank Park and Game 5, if necessary, will return. are in the suburbs of Atlanta).

In Game 3 on Friday, Phillies co-ace Aaron Nola will go for the hosts against an Atlanta starter yet to be determined. The big question is whether rookie righthander Spencer Strider will be able to make the start. He is on the NLDS roster of the Braves after being sidelined since mid-September with an oblique injury.

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