The Braves starters aren’t resting. Fortunately, neither are the Phillies’ bats.
The Phillies got off to a solid start tonight against Kyle Wright, with Kyle Schwarber walking and Trea Turner singling. Unfortunately a groundout by Bryce Harper, a lineout by Alec Bohm, and a groundout by Bryson Stott ended the inning without damage done to the Braves, though some may have been dealt to the psyches of Phillies fans, frustrated by another empty first inning. Further psychological damage was done in the bottom of the first, as Ozzie Albies slammed a Zach Wheeler pitch to deep right to take a 1-0 lead.
Turnabout is fair play, however, and the Phillies responded in a way both predictable and not. A homer from the Phillies is expected, and given the plethora of sluggers on the roster, an opposite-field blast isn’t out of the ordinary either. But one by Johan Rojas —only the second homer of his career, and the first against a true pitcher rather than a position player — is a bit more surprising, though certainly welcome. The ball barely cleared the fences, but it was enough to bring home Castellanos, who was given a free pass two at-bats earlier, and to give the Phillies the lead.
The opposite field solo shot from Harper one inning later was less surprising, though no less welcome. JT Realmuto’s second-deck homer in the top of the 4th fell somewhere between Rojas’ and Harper’s for surprise value.
The top of the 5th saw Turner singling on a ground ball that dribbled slowly up the third base line, staying just fair; no Brave made an attempt on it. Kyle Wright walked Harper next, and his night was over. Michael Tonkin navigated the rest of the inning smoothly as the replacement, inducing three quick outs.
After a quick bottom of the 5th, Castellanos started the 6th with the Phillies’ 4th homer of the night, taking the lead to 5-1. Marsh walked, Rojas struck out, and Schwarber came to the plate. On a night full of long balls, Schwarber would not be denied his part. Not much common ground can be found between Braves fans and the Phillie faithful, but the two star-crossed houses were united in awestruck wonder as Schwarber’s 483 foot blast sailed over the Truist Park Chop House and into the Atlanta night.
In the bottom of the 6th Acuńa Jr. finally broke the Braves’ drought, lining the ball to left center for just the second hit of the game for the Braves. Wheeler induced a pop out from Albies, but a walk and a single quickly loaded the bases. Marcell Ozuna came to the plate hoping to get the Braves back into it, but Wheeler sent him down swinging to end the inning.
From there, things went quickly. Perhaps the Braves were just ready to get this one over with. No batters reached base through the top of the 9th, going down in order at the hands of Tonkin, Gregory Soto, Lucas Luetge, Matt Strahm, and Luetge again, in that order.
Finally, with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, Ozuna doubled to left against Dylan Covey. It made no difference; Kevin Pillar grounded out to end it.
Every run that crossed the plate did so via the long ball. Small ball isn’t dead, but it wasn’t in the building tonight. Few outside of Georgia will complain.
The series continues tomorrow at 7:20.