2023 National League Division Series 1

From BR Bullpen

2023 National League Division Series
Philadelphia Phillies logo
2023 National League Division Series logo
Atlanta Braves logo
Philadelphia Phillies
90 - 72 in the NL
3 - 1
Series Summary
Atlanta Braves
104 - 58 in the NL


The Teams[edit]




Series results[edit]

Game Score Date Starters Time (ET)
1 Philadelphia Phillies 3 Atlanta Braves 0 October 7 Ranger Suarez (0-0) Spencer Strider (0-1) 6:07 pm
2 Philadelphia Phillies 4 Atlanta Braves 5 October 9 Zack Wheeler (0-0) Max Fried (0-0) 6:07 pm
3 Atlanta Braves 2 Philadelphia Phillies 10 October 11 Bryce Elder (0-1) Aaron Nola (1-0) 5:07 pm
4 Atlanta Braves 1 Philadelphia Phillies 3 October 12 Spencer Strider (0-2) Ranger Suarez (1-0) 8:03 pm


Game 1 @ Truist Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Phillies 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 3 6 0
Braves 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 2
WP: Jeff Hoffman (1-0); LP: Spencer Strider (0-1); SV: Craig Kimbrel (1)
Home Runs: PHI - Bryce Harper (1)
  • Attendance: 43,689

The Phillies managed to stymie the vaunted Braves attack in Game 1, and that in spite of being on the road and not having one of their two aces pitching. They kept Atlanta off the scoreboard by using seven pitchers, who combined on a shutout, while doing just enough against Spencer Strider, the only 20-game winner in the majors that season, to end up with a 3-0 win. With Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola having both been used in the Wild Card Series, it was Ranger Suarez who was selected to take the mound for Philadelphia, being preferred to Taijuan Walker after having pitched well in the very same situation the previous year.

There was no scoring through the first three innings, after Philadelphia wasted a great chance in the 1st: Kyle Schwarber had led off the game with a double, but been immediately been cut down at third base on a ground ball by Trea Turner. Turner then moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on an infield single by Bryce Harper, but Alec Bohm grounded into a double play to end the threat. The Phillies got on the board in the 4th when Harper received a one-out walk, made it to second on a wild pick-off throw by Strider and scored on a single by Bryson Stott. With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Matt Olson singled and Ozzie Albies reached on a fielder's choice as Olson was safe on a close play at second. That marked the end for Suarez, who was replaced by Jeff Hoffman. He walked Marcell Ozuna to load the bases, but then struck out Michael Harris. In the 6th, Harper doubled the Phillies' lead with a homer.

The Braves could not mount any offense against any of the Phillies' pitchers, including raw rookie Orion Kerkering, who had made his major league debut only two weeks earlier. Then in the 8th. with A.J. Minter pitching, Turner singled with one out then stole both second and third base, two of the Phillies' five steals on the day. Minter then walked Harper and gave way to Pierce Johnson. He struck out Bohm but walked Bryson Stott to load the bases. With tension at its highest, J.T. Realmuto was awarded first base on catcher's interference on a play challenged in vain by the Braves. It was anticlimactic, but it forced in a hugely important run, especially as Atlanta placed two men on base in the bottom of the inning. However, Turner made the play of the game, diving to stop a ground ball by Albies that appeared to be a sure hit, flipping the ball from his knees to Stott at second, who then completed the double play. That set things up for an easy save for Craig Kimbrel, who retired the Braves in order in the bottom of the 9th.

Game 2 @ Truist Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Phillies 1 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 4 9 2
Braves 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 2 x 5 4 1
WP: A.J. Minter (1-0); LP: Jeff Hoffman (1-1); SV: Raisel Iglesias (1)
Home Runs: PHI - J.T. Realmuto (1); ATL - Travis d'Arnaud (1), Austin Riley (1)
  • Attendance: 43,898

It seems you can't keep a good man down. The Phillies tried though, behind the stellar pitching of Zack Wheeler, keeping the Braves off the scoreboard for the first five innings to run their scoreless streak to 14 innings. In the middle of the 6th, the Phillies were ahead, 4-0, and the Braves had not yet collected a hit. And yet, Atlanta managed to come back, scoring five runs over its last three turns at bat, and then ending the game on a superb defensive play. Game 2 was a true classic.

Max Fried, starting for the Braves, was coming off a stint on the injured list caused by a blister problem, and no one knew how long he would be able to go, but the Braves were preparing for a short outing. Which is exactly what happened, as the Phils got to him for three runs in four innings. Trea Turner got things started by hustling for a double with one out in the 1st, then scored on a single by Alec Bohm. There were two more singles that inning, by J.T. Realmuto and Nick Castellanos, but Bohm advanced just one base each time, and all three runners were stranded when Bryson Stott grounded out to 1B Matt Olson. In the 3rd, Bryce Harper singled with one out and Realmuto followed with a two-run homer to right-center, making it 3-0. Meanwhile, Wheeler was absolutely dominant: of the ten batters he faced through the first three innings, seven struck out, two popped up to the infield, and the other, Olson, had reached when Turner failed to field a routine grounder at short. Fried allowed a couple more baserunners in the 4th, both on walks, but escaped without giving up another run, and all in all his outing, if not good, at least was not disastrous.

Fried was replaced by Kirby Yates in the 5th and the Phillies scored another run, this one unearned, when Castellanos singled with one out, then surprised Atlanta by taking off for second. Throwing from his knees, C Travis d'Arnaud lobbed the ball into the outfield and Castellanos continued to third base, from where he scored on a sacrifice fly by Stott. Wheeler kept the Braves hitless through the end of the 5th, and the question was where the Braves' vaunted bats had gone to hibernate. Those bats finally stirred in the 6th when Ronald Acuna drew a two-out walk after which Ozzie Albies singled softly to right field. Acuna scored when Turner bobbled the relay back from the outfield. That run was unearned as well and was a bit of a gift, but it was the spark the Braves needed. While the Braves' bullpen was shutting down the Phils, Rob Thomson elected to send Wheeler back for the 7th and he gave up a lead-off single to Olson. He then struck out Marcell Ozuna, but d'Arnaud surprised him with a line drive homer to left, cutting Philadelphia's lead to just 4-3. That was it for Wheeler, who gave way to Jose Alvarado for the final two outs of the inning.

After going down in order against A.J. Minter in the top of the 8th, the Phillies had Alvarado retire Michael Harris, then sent in Jeff Hoffman, the winning pitcher in Game 1, to face Acuna. It started badly when he plunked the Braves' great lead-off hitter, who took second on a ground out by Albies. Acuna then stole third, but there were two outs. Hoffman had two strikes on Austin Riley, but couldn't finish him on his next two pitches, both balls, and on a full count, Riley swung almost one-handed at a low pitch, but the ball traveled and traveled and cleared the fence for a two-run homer. Suddenly, the Braves were in the lead as Truist Park, which had been eerily quiet in the first few innings, exploded. Minter returned to start the 9th, to face the lefty Harper, but he walked him. In came closer Raisel Iglesias, not used to dealing with inherited runners, but he got Realmuto to hit a soft fly to center for the first out. Castellanos was up next and he crushed a pitch to deep center. Harper was convinced it was for extra bases and was running full steam when Harris caught the ball just as he reached the fence on the run. Harris whirled around to throw the ball back to the infield as Harper tried to retrace his steps. Harris' throw missed the cut-off man, but 3B Riley picked it up and threw a side-arm bullet to 1B Olson, getting Harper by half a step, ending the game on a spectacular double play. The series was tied.

Game 3 @ Citizens Bank Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Braves 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 10 0
Phillies 0 0 6 0 1 1 0 2 x 10 11 0
WP: Aaron Nola (1-0); LP: Bryce Elder (0-1)
Home Runs: PHI - Nick Castellanos 2 (2), Bryce Harper 2 (3), Trea Turner (1), Brandon Marsh (1)
  • Attendance: 45,798

There may have been some concern that the Braves' spectacular come-from-behind win in Game 2 may have flattened the Phillies coming into Game 3, but that concern was quickly erased. A six-run outburst in the 3rd inning took care of that, and the Phillies kept hitting the occasional long ball after that, ending up with six in all, including a pair each from Nick Castellanos and Bryce Harper. The Braves sent second-year-man Bryce Elder to the mound, not confirming his presence until the day of the game, and for a couple of innings he did alright, but after the Phillies got to him in the 3rd, there was no looking back, as Aaron Nola was taking care of business on the other side, and making sure the Braves never got their hopes up.

For all the Phillies' dominance in this game, it was actually the Braves who scored first, doing so in the top of the 3rd on a double by Ronald Acuna and a single for Ozzie Albies. At that point, Elder had retired all six batters he had faced in order, but he would soon falter: Castellanos led off the bottom of the 3rd with a homer to left, and Brandon Marsh followed with a single. Elder did retire the next two batters, but Trea Turner singled and Harper crushed one of his pitches into the upper deck near the foul pole in right field for a three-run homer. The ballpark was still rocking when Bryson Stott followed with a single and Alec Bohm drew a walk. Michael Tonkin replaced Elder, but he allowed a long double to J.T. Realmuto, scoring both runners to make it 6-1. There was no coming back from that onslaught.

The Phils added a 7th run when Harper hit his second homer of the game to lead off the 5th against Brad Hand. Atlanta managed to score a second run in the 6th when Marcell Ozuna singled and after Matt Strahm replaced Nola, pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar drew a walk and Orlando Arcia singled. But the Braves stranded two runners, and the Phillies immediately replied when Turner homered off AJ Smith-Shawver with two outs in the bottom of the inning. The young Braves hurler would give up two more solo homers, back-to-back shots by Castellanos and Marsh to start the 8th, and another young pitcher, Daysbel Hernandez finished up the inning. For Philadelphia, with a 10-2 lead, they could get a rusty Michael Lorenzen some work, and he handled the 9th without giving up a run even if two baserunners reached.

Game 4 @ Citizens Bank Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Braves 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 0
Phillies 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 x 3 10 1
WP: Ranger Suarez (1-0); LP: Spencer Strider (0-2); SV: Matt Strahm (1)
Home Runs: ATL - Austin Riley (2); PHI - Nick Castellanos 2 (4), Trea Turner (2)
  • Attendance: 45,831

The Phillies bounced the Braves from the postseason for the second straight year with a 3-1 win in Game 4, before a boisterous crowd at Citizens Bank Park. On paper, the pitching match-up featuring Ranger Suarez for the Phils and Spencer Strider for Atlanta was again a mismatch, but Suarez upheld his reputation as being a postseason superstar, once again contributing a great start, while Strider pitched well but made just enough mistakes to be saddled with the loss, his second of the series. Once again, the long ball reigned supreme, with all four runs in the game coming as the result of solo homers, and the hitting hero was Nick Castellanos who contributed two of the homers, in front of his ecstatic young son in the stands, to become the first player in postseason history with back-to-back multi-homer games.

The Phillies could easily have built a big lead in the early innings, as they placed a large number of runners on base, but could not get the hit that would have plated them. In the 1st, Trea Turner hit a one-out double off Strider, who then issued an intentional walk to Bryce Harper after he failed to offer at a couple of pitches outside the strike zone. The strategy worked as Strider struck out Alec Bohm and got Bryson Stott to fly out. In the 2nd, Castellanos drew a one-out walk and Brandon Marsh followed with a single but when Johan Rojas lined a ball to center field, both runners were going and when Michael Harris made a shoestring catch, it was child's play to double Castellanos off second base. The Braves finally got a man on base when Harris made it to second on a throwing error by Turner, although it could also have been ruled a hit and an error. In any case, it was of no consequence as Ronald Acuna followed with a ground out. In the 3rd, the Phillies once again failed to score after placing a baserunner in scoring position with less than two outs, as with one out Turner singled and made it to third on another single by Harper. But Bohm and Stott once again failed to cash them in, with Bohm popping up this time, and Stott striking out.

Thus, when Austin Riley homered to left with one out in the 4th, the Phillies could have felt this was unjust since it was them who had been applying all the pressure, but they did not get riled up. Matt Olson followed Riley's homer with a single, but Marcell Ozuna grounded into a double play to end the inning. Then with one out in the bottom of the 4th, Castellanos tied everyone up again with a homer to left, his third in two games. The question was now how long Rob Thomson would stick with Suarez, given his bullpen was well rested, but he seemed to be liking what he was seeing, and his pitcher rewarded his patience with a scoreless 5th inning, stranding Sean Murphy who had reached on a lead-off single. The Phillies then took the lead for the first time in the bottom of that inning on Turner's third hit of the game, this one a homer to left field. Strider then pitched against Harper once again, walking him, and got Bohm to ground into a double play. He was in fact pitching pretty well - apart from surrendering solo homers on two breaking balls that hung up a bit too much. Thomson did call on his bullpen in the 6th, with Seranthony Dominguez the fist to come out. He threw just five pitches, resulting in two outs and a single by Riley, before José Alvarado was summoned to face Olson for a lefty-on-lefty match-up which resulted in a fly ball to center. The final run of the game scored in the bottom of that inning when Castellanos inscribed his name in the history books with his second homer of the game, and fourth in two contests, with two outs against Strider. That spelled the end for the only twenty-game winner in the majors that year, as he gave way to A.J. Minter.

The Braves' best chance to get back into the game came in the 7th. Alvarado got two quick outs before walking Kevin Pillar and Orlando Arcia. Seeing that this was likely to be the key moment of the game, Thomson made an early call to his closer, Craig Kimbrel, coming into an unfamiliar situation, as he rarely had to deal with inherited runners. He walked pinch-hitter Travis d'Arnaud to face Acuna with the bases loaded. His first pitch bounced away from C J.T. Realmuto by some twenty feet, Pillar began breaking for home, then thought better of it and turned back. The two other runners were following his lead, and if Realmuto had been aggressive, he probably could have thrown out pinch-runner Nicky Lopez at first base, but then again he could also have throw the ball into right field... Acuna then drove a ball deep to center field, but CF Rojas made a great running catch near the jutting corner in the fence in left-center to end a tense inning in what was clearly the key at-bat of the game. The Phillies left a couple more men on base in the bottom of the 7th and Kimbrel got the first two outs in the 8th before Gregory Soto retired Olson to end the 8th. In the 9th Ozuna led off with a walk and Murphy followed with a single. Thomson now called on Matt Strahm who got Pillar to pop up, pinch-hitter Eddie Rosario to fly out to shallow left, and another pinch-hitter, Vaughn Grissom, to end the game and the series by striking out. The Phillies were moving on, and while the Braves may have won a lot more games during the regular season, everyone knew coming in to this series that this Phillies team had a ton of postseason experience and had played very well down the stretch, so the surprise was not as great as when they had booted out the Braves the year before. Still, except for a few innings in Game 2, the Braves' steamroller offense had failed to materialize for the second straight year, which was really the most puzzling thing about this series.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Mark Bowman: "'We just came up short': Braves knocked out in NLDS by Phils again: Strider allows three solo homers in six innings, as historic offense can't find its swing", mlb.com, October 13, 2023. [1]
  • Paul Newberry (The Associated Press): "Braves face Phillies in NLDS looking for payback after shocking playoff loss a year ago", Yahoo! Sports, October 6, 2023. [2]
  • Mike Petriello: "Phillies-Braves position-by-position breakdown", mlb.com, October 5, 2023. [3]
  • Todd Zolecki: "'That's why he's here': Castellanos homers twice to secure Phils' return trip to NLCS", mlb.com, October 13, 2023. [4]

Related Sites[edit]

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