After a hard loss on Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Phillies rebounded on Wednesday afternoon as they took down the Atlanta Braves 3-1. A two-run home run from Nick Castellanos was the difference-maker as Zack Wheeler earned a win after seven strong innings. David Robertson also made his first appearance after being traded to the Phillies, striking out two batters to earn the save on the day.
With the victory, the Phils improved to a 56-48 record on the year, holding a 0.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for the third National League wildcard spot at the time of the final pitch. The Braves currently own the first overall NL wildcard spot as their lead over the Phillies dropped to 6.5 games.
A Quiet Start
After a quiet first inning, Brave’s third baseman Austin Riley led off the bottom of the second with a double into center field. Two batters later, Riley attempted to take third on a botched ball to Alec Bohm off Marcell Ozuna. Bohm kicked the ball toward the middle of the field, where Bryson Stott made a great play, gunning Riley at third while Didi Gregorius covered the bag.
Phillies’ ace Zack Wheeler then found himself in a tight spot in the bottom of the third as Orlando Arcia and Guillermo Heredia led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Ronald Acuña Jr. then stepped up to the plate looking to execute on the success coming from the bottom of the Braves’ order. Instead, Acuña grounded into a 5-4-3 double play, killing the Braves’ momentum. With Arcia left at third, Dansby Swanson struck out as Wheeler left the inning unscathed.
The Phillies attempted to break the ice in the top of the fourth as Nick Castellanos reached base on a full-cut walk with two outs. Darick Hall, who previously singled against Braves’ starter Charlier Morton, was then hit by a pitch, placing two runners on for the Phillies. Bryson Stott then hit a dribbler back to Morton to end the inning.
Orlando Arcia then continued his success against Wheeler in the bottom of the fifth, hitting a two-out solo home run to score the first run of the day for either team.
Phillies’ Bats Heat Up
Morton exited the contest after pitching 6.2 innings for the Braves. Dylan Lee entered the contest, working the Braves out of the inning.
Following a Kyle Schwarber strikeout to start the inning, Rhys Hoskins worked a walk before the Braves removed Lee in favor of Collin McHugh. Alec Bohm then stepped up to the plate, moving Hoskins to third on a single into left field. With one out, J.T. Realmuto slapped a double play ball to Riley at third as Bohm and Realmuto were called out on the 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
That is, until the Phillies reviewed the play as Realmuto beat the throw to first by one step. Instead of the inning-ending double play ball it appeared to be, Realmuto’s ground ball tied the game up as Hoskins scored on the play.
The icing on the cake then came as Nick Castellanos stepped up to the plate, smacking a two-run home run into deep center field to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead. The home run, his ninth of the year, increasing Castellanos’ slash line over the past seven games to .414/.433/.586.
Old and New Faces Pull Through From the Bullpen
Now with a two-run lead at his disposal, Wheeler’s day came to a close as Seranthony Dominguez came in to start the bottom of the eighth. After a fly-out from Arcia to start the inning, Robbie Grossman pinch-hit for the Braves, hitting a double off of the wall in right field. After allowing a full-count walk to Acuña, Dominguez struck out Swanson for the second out of the inning.
The Phillies, fresh with additional bullpen depth at the trade deadline, then removed Dominguez after 0.2 innings in favor for the left-handed Jose Alvarado to face fellow southpaw Matt Olson. One pitch would be all that it takes for Alvarado as he forced a pop-up to Matt Olson to shut down the Braves.
After a quiet top of the ninth inning for the Phillies, manager Rob Thomson called upon David Robertson to make his Phillies redebut in a save situation against the heat of the Braves’ lineup. Robertson, still donning his blue cleats from his time with the Chicago Cubs, pitched 40.1 innings for a 2.23 ERA and 14 saves for the Cubs.
With a full count to Riley, Robertson got the All-Star looking on a 93 MPH cutter, striking out the first batter of his second stint with the Phillies. He then went to his slider, taking down Eddie Rosario on a 2-2 slider for his second strikeout of the day. Marcell Ozuna then fouled out to Hoskins at first to end the contest as the Phillies claimed a 3-1 victory.
Inside the Box Score
Zack Wheeler pitched another gem on the day for the Phillies, allowing one run on a solo home run while yielding five hits on the day. Wheeler also struck out seven Braves batters while walking zero. Wheeler earned win number 10 on the season while David Robertson earned his first save with the Phillies and 15th on the year.
As a collective, Phillies’ pitchers struck out 10 batters on the day for the Phillies while allowing only six hits.
It was a quiet day for the Phillies’ bats, as the team combined for only five on the day. Nick Castellanos pulled through with his two-run shot in the eighth, going 1-for-3 overall with a home run, a walk, one run scored, and two RBI on the day. Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto also scored on the day for the Phillies.
While the Phillies’ offense has been streaky as of late, some consistency will return to the top of the order as Jean Segura is scheduled to make his return from the Injured List on Thursday. Bryce Harper should also return to the Phillies’ lineup before the end of the month.
Following the contest, Thomson explained that Robertson is not the designated closer for the Phillies, but rather the right pitcher for the job on the game. Had the eighth inning ended one batter early, and Matt Olson led off the bottom of the ninth, Thomson explained that Brad Hand would have gotten the ball in the bottom of the ninth.
With the victory, the Phillies-Braves season series stands at a 6-6 deadlock, splitting the two-game series. The Phillies will next face off against the Braves in Atlanta on Friday, September 16th. Seven of the Phillies’ final 19 games will be against the Braves, including a four-game homestead from September 22nd-25th.
The Phillies will now return to Citizen’s Bank Park for a seven-game home stand against the Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins. Noah Syndergaard will make his Phillies debut on Thursday night as he faces the Juan Soto-less Nationals.
Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP