The Phillies were not able to mount another dramatic almost comeback tonight, as the Braves took three out of four in the series with a 4-1 win and officially clinched their sixth straight National League East Division title. After three games where Philadelphia erased large deficits and made things interesting late, they were silenced after the first inning in the finale.
Early hope gone.
Atlanta starter Spencer Strider seemed to be on the ropes early, throwing 36 total pitches in the first inning and allowing a run on a Bryson Stott single. But Strider then proceeded to finish seven innings with just that one run allowed on 110 pitches. He allowed just three more hits and no walks after walking two in the first and allowing the single to Stott. The next Phillies hit did not come until two outs in the fourth inning.
Spencer Strider, 99mph ⛽️ pic.twitter.com/pjmNeoUt5P— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 14, 2023
The Atlanta bullpen finished the job, with Brad Hand and Kirby Yates retiring all six batters they faced across the final two innings with three combined strikeouts. The Braves pitching dominated the Phillies all night after allowing 21 runs in the previous three games.
A strong audition
Earlier today, our own Ethan Witte wrote about how tonight was an audition of sorts for Cristopher Sánchez. If that was indeed the case, Sánchez passed with flying colors despite being saddled with the loss.
Sánchez did allow four runs, two in the first inning on a mammoth Austin Riley home run but threw a career-high 7.1 IP with a career-high 10 strikeouts. All this against a historic offense that also led the league in AVG (.293) and OPS (.889) against left-handed pitching entering the game. He was much better than his line would indicate.
The Braves jumped on Sánchez early, swinging early and often on his fastball, including the first three pitches he threw in the game. But he adjusted and used his changeup to good results, generating 18 whiffs on 47 pitches.
Cristopher Sanchez, Sick Changeups. pic.twitter.com/zRGHHmlARY— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 13, 2023
In the end, Sánchez allowed 8 total hits and one walk. He didn’t make many mistakes, but the ones he did make were punished, as four of the eight hits he allowed were for extra bases. Nevertheless, Sánchez has put together a strong resume to present for staying in the rotation when/if the Phillies decide to return to a 5-man and to be a possible postseason starter.
Here's some of Cris Sanchez’s most difficult starts— Anthony (@AnthonyEsbensen) September 14, 2023
#3 ranked offense Rays: 6.0 1 ER 2 SO
#8 Orioles: 7.0 2 ER 8 SO
#12 Twins: 6.0 2 ER 5 S0
#10 Cardinals: 6.0 2 ER 6 S0
stat linetonight looks a lot worse than how he's actually pitched
He has 15 whiffs through 6 innings
Not much to show.
The Phillies offense was completely stymied after the first inning and finished with just 4 hits and two walks. They struck out 12 times in the game, the 68th time they have punched out double digit times in a game this season. That’s the fifth most such games in the majors. Philadelphia is 27-41 in those games.