After sweeping aside the St. Louis Cardinals in last weekend’s Wild Card round, the Philadelphia Phillies arrived to Truist Park riding a wave of confidence. The Phillies jumped out to a 7-1 lead and held on to win game one of the National League Division Series 7-6 over the reigning and defending World Champion Atlanta Braves.

Braves pitcher Max Fried took the loss. He gave up six runs (four earned) on eight hits in three and one-third innings. The two unearned runs were due to a throwing error by Fried. 

In the bottom of the first inning, a double by Braves’ center fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. and walks to Austin Riley and Matt Olsen created a bases loaded situation for Braves’ designated hitter Willam Contreras. He grounded into a double play, a moment that killed the momentum and took the sold-out crowd out of the game. 

Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud blasted a solo home run in the second inning, which drew the Braves within one. However, the Philadelphia bats would strike in the third and fourth innings, scoring four times and chasing Fried from the game.

“You know, it’s just one of those days, he didn’t have his best stuff,” said d’Arnaud. “You know, he [Fried] tried to go out there and battle and stay out there as long as he could and keep us in the game. But unfortunately, then it didn’t go the way we wanted. You just gotta tip the cap to them. They had a great game plan. And they came ready to swing and put together some good innings. And they did a great job today.”

Tuesday’s game was Fried’s shortest postseason outing since his four inning start against the Miami Marlins on October 6, 2020. The last time Fried allowed six runs in a start was in his Game 2 start in the 2021 World Series against the Houston Astros. 

Phillies right fielder Nick Castellanos dominated Braves pitching Tuesday afternoon. He’d finish the game going  3-for-5 with three runs batted in. The last time he had three hits was September 28th against the Cubs.

Philadelphia starting pitcher Ranger Suárez went three and one-third innings, giving up only one run, while issuing five walks and striking out five Braves hitters. Andrew Bellati would be credited with the victory.

Ronald Acuña Jr. finished the day going 3-4 with a double and a walk. It was his fourth three-hit game of his postseason career. First baseman Matt Olson blasted a three run home run over the center field fence and brought the Braves within one run. However, that was as close as Atlanta would get.

“They did a great job with their game plan and executing their game plan,” said d’Arnaud of Philadelphia’s performance. “They didn’t over-swing, they just tried to make some good contact and they did it at the right times when runners were on and on. They put up a big seven against us.”

Conversely, the Braves finished the game with 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base. 

The winner of Game 1 in a best-of-five series has gone on to win the series 102 of 144 times (71%). In Division Series history with a 2-2-1 format, teams that won Game 1 on the road have gone on to win 29 of 41 series (71%). However, the Atlanta Braves have recent history on their side as they lost Game 1 of last year’s Division Series to the Milwaukee Brewers. They went on to win that series.

Philadelphia will trot out right-hander Zack Wheeler, from Smyrna and out of East Paulding High School. This season, Wheeler won twelve games, lost seven and notched a 2.82 earned run average. Meanwhile, the Braves will have 21-game winner Kyle Wright pitching for the Braves. Wright has a 3.19 era in 180 innings pitched. 

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...