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Shermanesque: Phillies 5, Braves 1

The sweep is ours, and fairly won

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

After three games, a few comparisons suggest themselves for the Phillies lineup. The Charlie Manuel Golden Era teams is perhaps the most obvious. Jim Fregosi’s 1993 wrecking crew, for those of us a bit further on in years. Or maybe you’re thinking of Professor Farnsworth’s mutant atomic supermen, just with more guys and in a different sport.

The point is, they’re good. Game Three saw fewer runs, and fewer homers, than the glorious excess of the first two victories, but particularly given the weather conditions—pretty much what you’d expect at a night game in March in the northeastern US—it was no less impressive. The Phillies drew nine walks, including three in the fifth inning as they scored twice to take the lead without benefit of a hit.

Pitcher Jake Arrieta led off the frame by subjecting Braves starter Kal Wright to an 11 pitch battle that ended with a lineout to center. Wright then got ahead of Andrew McCutchen 0-2 before losing him to a walk, then hit Jean Segura with a pitch to end his night. Lefty Max Fried came on to face Bryce Harper, who worked a full count, fouled off two mid-90s fastballs, then looked at ball four to load the bases. Next was Rhys Hoskins, who fell behind 1-2, then took three pitches to force in McCutchen with the go-ahead run. J.T. Realmuto followed with a sacrifice fly to put the Phils ahead 3-1.

Arrieta came back out for the sixth, and worked a final inning that served as a perfect microcosm for his game. He issued his sixth and last walk of the night to Ozzie Albies leading off, then saw him erased trying to steal on a rocket from Realmuto—his second caught stealing of the game. Brian McCann came up, worked a full count, fouled a couple off, and finally flied out. Arrieta got ahead of Dansby Swanson 0-2, ran that count full, and ended his night with a nasty running fastball to notch his sixth strikeout.

In all, Arrieta threw 49 balls among his 104 pitches. But other than a run on a wild pitch in the third, he kept the Braves off the scoreboard. The bullpen was even better, as Adam Morgan, Pat Neshek, and Hector Neris each threw a scoreless inning. By the time Neshek came out for the eighth, the Phils’ lead had grown, thanks to this:

Harper went 2-3, including the solo homer, with two walks on the night. Hoskins, batting behind him, reached base all four times he came up, on three walks and a hit-by-pitch following the blast that led to Shane Carle’s immediate ejection. He came around to score on a Maikel Franco infield single that ran the score to 5-1.

So to sum up this opening weekend: the Phillies outscored the defending division champs 23-11, hit eight home runs, and stand as baseball’s last undefeated team (leaving the Braves as MLB’s last winless team).

The General approves.