Baseball's most powerful group of hitters finally stepped up, perhaps just in time to save the Atlanta Braves' season.
Travis d'Arnaud and Austin Riley connected for two-run home runs as the Braves, who were hitless until the sixth inning, rallied from a four-run deficit.
With all this, the Braves managed to surprise the Philadelphia Phillies of Dominican Gregory Soto and Seranthony Dominguez 5-4 on Monday night, tying the National League Division Series at one win apiece.
Phillies Failed to Hold off Braves
D'Arnaud, who started at catcher in place of the out-of-form Sean Murphy, gave the Braves hope with his home run into the left field bleachers in the seventh, cutting Philadelphia's lead to 4-3.
It was Atlanta's first extra-base hit in the series. Riley provided the second, connecting on a 3-2 pitch from Jeff Hoffman in the Phillies bullpen with two outs in the eighth to put the Braves ahead for the first time in the best-of-five series.
Ronald Acuna Jr. scored before Riley after being hit in the left arm by Hoffman's first pitch from the bullpen.
It ended in equally surprising fashion. With Bryce Harper on the bases, Nick Castellanos connected on one to right-center, only to be robbed on a great catch by Harris that clanged off the fence.
Harper had gotten past second base when Harris made the catch. He backed up desperately and the throw back into the box went past second baseman Ozzie Albies.
But Riley alertly backed up the play and threw to first to complete the double play.
It was the first postseason game in baseball history to end with a double play involving an outfielder. Thus, the series is completely even. Game three of the series will see the Phillies playing at home and with a chance to take advantage.
- Atlanta Braves (@LosBravos) October 10, 2023
Bravos Remain Consistent
As did Riley, backing himself up on a play he could never have expected to be involved in. A.J. Minter picked up the win and Raisel Iglesias earned his first save of this postseason.
With Zack Wheeler dominating a lineup that led the majors in runs and tied a major league record with 307 home runs, the Phillies built a 4-0 lead.
J.T. Realmuto connected on a two-run home run in the third inning off Max Fried, sandwiched between Alec Bohm's run-producing single and Bryson Stott's sacrifice fly.
Wheeler, who was born and raised not far from Truist Park, came within one strike of reaching the sixth without allowing a hit. But he walked Acuna after getting 1-2 on the count, and Albies connected on a single to right field.
Acuna stopped at third, but bolted for home when the throw back to the box bounced off Trea Turner's glove for the shortstop's second error of the night.
Wheeler struck out three batters in each of the first two innings, with the Braves making contact on just 12 of 26 pitches.
Matt Olson was the only runner to reach, reaching base when Turner hit a routine grounder to shortstop.
Throughout the first four innings, the home team did not even get a hit. Finally, Marcell Ozuna lifted one to center field. It was caught by Johan Rojas, but that looked like progress the way the Braves were struggling.
Atlanta was blanked 3-0 in Game 1 and began the series with 14 straight scoreless innings, its longest drought of the season, before finally breaking it with the help of Turner's glove.
In all, the Phillies left 11 runners on base, but still return home in the same position as a year ago, when they won the final two games of the National League Divisional Series at home to eliminate the Braves.
For his part, the Dominican Soto managed to pitch seven times and got five strikeouts. Dominguez had a brilliant night in the first game of the series and both players expect to see more action on Wednesday night.