The Philadelphia Phillies were hyper-aggressive during game one of their National League Divisional Series against the Atlanta Braves. They stole bases, Bryce Harper hit a home run in the top of the sixth inning. Coupled with an impressive performance by their bullpen, the Phillies won game one 3-0.
It was the first time the Braves have been shutout at home this season. For added context, the Braves were shutout for the first time at home since August 28, 2021. Additionally, for an offense that slugged over .500, led the majors in runs scored and home runs (307), it was the first time a team that led in each of those categories was shutout in the opening game of the playoffs since the 2001 Seattle Mariners and the 1935 Detroit Tigers, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
“This is where he shines,” said Philadelphia Phillies manager Rob Thompson of Harper. “He’s come up with some big games for us and a nice play there in the ninth inning as well at first base. You know, he doesn’t get overwhelmed by the situation, that’s for sure.”
Philadelphia starter Ranger Suárez pitched 3 and 2/3 innings, gave up one hit and struck out four Braves. Phillies manager Rob Thompson told Suárez it didn’t matter how long he pitched. Just empty the tank.
“You hate to take a guy out,” Thompson said. “He’s pitching well, but just because of the off days, it was Hoffman no matter what.”
Hoffman came in the bottom of the fourth inning and struck out Michael Harris II with the bases loaded. The Braves finished the night 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Another notable moment in the game was Phillies reliever Orion Kerkering’s performance in the seventh inning. Even though he has been in the Big Leagues for two weeks, Kerkering got a 1-2-3 inning on eight pitches.
“We’ve got one of the best relief corps in the game,” Harper said. “Ranger came out and threw really well. Nothing bothers him. It’s just like all of our guys, man. Nothing bothers too many of our starting pitchers. So really good pitching all around. I thought they played really good defense as well. What a great night.”
Craig Kimbrel closed it down by retiring Ozuna, Harris II, and Arcia on twelve pitches.
Spencer Strider gave up two runs (one earned), on five hits while striking out eight Philadelphia batters in seven innings. Usually, that’s a job well done. But these Braves’ bats got shut down.
“He came out of the game, most times yelling at me that he wants to stay,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Strider’s reaction after exiting the game. “He said, ‘I’m good. I’m good.’ He did a great job. And there wasn’t any reason because he needed a push then. The adrenaline gets going, I wasn’t expecting this to come in and in the game like that and want to come out of the game. But I just told him, ‘you did your job.’ So I said you know what, in spur of the moment thing and he’s coming off there with a lot of adrenaline going on and it’s hard to contain that sometimes which is awesome. That’s what makes this kid great.”
Max Fried will take the mound for the Braves in Game Two on Monday evening, opposite right hander Zach Wheeler.
“I’m happy that Wheeler and Aaron Nola are going in the next two games but again, you can’t take anybody for granted,” Thompson said. “I mean, those guys gotta pitch and we got to play. The second part of it is this team to a man that has this innate toughness to them, really resilient and then they just keep fighting and as a group they did the same thing. So it’s a great combination of talent and makeup that we have on this club.”