The Atlanta Braves trailed the Philadelphia Phillies 4-0 heading to the bottom of the sixth inning at Truist Park. The crowd was growing anxious and restless. Then, the boys mounted a comeback. Austin Riley capped it off by hitting a go-ahead two-run homer with two out in the bottom of the eighth. The Braves beat the Phillies 5-4 in game two of their National League Divisional Series matchup. It matched the largest postseason comeback in franchise history.
However, this was a tale of two games.
Game two starter Max Fried struggled mightily to get anyone out. In his first outing since September 21 with blister on his pitching hand, Fried threw 30 pitches in the first inning as Nick Castellanos hit an RBI single that got Philadelphia going.
In the third inning, catcher J.T. Realmuto hit a two-run home run, his second of the season, scoring Bryce Harper in the process. Fried gave up 3 runs (all earned) on six hits in four innings. He struck out three, walked four and gave up a home run. He also threw 95 pitches in three innings.
The Braves were shutout in the first fourteen innings of this series, a season-high. Through five innings, they were held hitless by Phillies starter Zack Wheeler. The East Paulding High School alumnus struck out ten in six-and-a-third innings.
Wheeler is only the third Phillies pitcher to take a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He joins the late, great Roy Halladay, who threw a no-hitter vs. the Reds in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS.
“We were trying to stay as positive as possible in that dugout,” said Riley. “Everybody was, was saying, ‘we just got to gotta keep going’, you know, had an unbelievable night. He’s very dominant. And like I said, I think it’s that next guy mentality, feeding off each other and trying to get the ball rolling. Once we get that crowd back in it, good things happen.”
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Ozzie Albies singled to right field. Ronala Acuña Jr went to third and scored on an error by Trea Turner, which put the Braves on the board for the first time all night.
“It was the first thing we’ve done to really give ourselves life, you know,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “It’s kind of nice to score a run, you know. It’s been a while. But that’s a good heads up play by Ronald. I mean, he didn’t put his head down, he stayed aware, watched the ball and you know, got a great jump when they bobbled it a little bit. Then the dugout’s like, ‘okay, it’s okay’ and then they energized themselves a little bit.”
In the seventh inning, Matt Olson singled off of Wheeler. After Marcell Ozuna struck out, Travis d’Arnaud hit a two-run home run to bring the Braves closer, 4-3.
“He’s such a good pitcher,” said d’Arnaud of Wheeler. “Truthfully, I think I just got lucky and that I was just trying to try to hit the ball on the barrel. My first at-bat I chased when that was over my head and my second at bat I flew one out so I was just trying to get good contact and I got rewarded with the extra base hit. So that’s how I’m looking at it.”
As the crowd was energized, Austin Riley hit the go-ahead homer to left field, scoring Acuña Jr. in the process.
In the top of the ninth inning, Nick Castellanos flew into a double play. Center fielder Michael Harris II made a catch at the wall, robbing Castellanos. Harris II then fired the ball into the infield. Then, third baseman Austin Riley threw a strike to first baseman Matt Olson, doubling off Bryce Harper at first base.
In the midst of the madness, the Phillies recognized that they split the two games and will play the next two games at Citizens Bank Park, which will be a raucous and rowdy atmosphere.
“Well, it’s a little disappointing,” admitted Phillies manager Rob Carpenter. “You know, you get up 4-0 on these guys, and you had some opportunities to break it open and you didn’t. And they came back, scored, [and] we didn’t score in the last four innings of the game. So that’s a little disappointing. But hey, we’ve got home field advantage now. And really, that’s what you’re looking for after, after these two games.”
The Braves will decide who will start game three in Philadelphia while the Phillies will send Nola to the mound.