Braves vs. Phillies takeaways: Atlanta ties NLDS behind bats of Olson, Riley, d’Arnaud – CBS Sports

Braves vs. Phillies takeaways: Atlanta ties NLDS behind bats of Olson, Riley, d'Arnaud - CBS Sports

The Atlanta Braves broke through against Philadelphia Philles ace Zack Wheeler with a two-out rally in the sixth inning, and that plus Kyle Wright’s excellent pitching allowed them to take Game 2 by a score of 3-0. That win evens the best-of-five National League Division Series at a game apiece.

The series now shifts to Philly for Game 3 on Friday. The winner of this series will advance to the NLCS to face either the Dodgers or Padres.

Now for some takeaways from Game 2.

Kyle Wright threw a gem

After Max Fried’s shaky outing in Game 1, the Braves needed a good outing from Game 2 starter Kyle Wright. He gave them that and then some. Wright pitched six scoreless innings against the Phillies, and along the way he allowed two hits, struck out six, and walked just one. Of his 83 pitches, 52 went for strikes. In stifling the Phillies, Wright leaned heavily on his fastball and curve, and he also mixed in his sinker. That was essential, as Wright’s four-strikeout in Game 2 was down about a full mph relative to his regular-season average fastball velocity.

As for Game Score, which is a quick and dirty Bill James metric that measures a pitcher’s dominance or lack thereof in a given start (50 is average and anything 90 or higher is an absolute gem), Wright put up a 73. Just twice during the regular season he surpassed that figure, and those two starts came against the Pirates and Marlins – two lineups that can’t compare to Philly.

Zack Wheeler was almost as good

Wheeler was dominant in his Wild Card Series start against the Cardinals, and during the regular season he collected 25 strikeouts against just one walk in his three starts against Atlanta. He pitched in a similar vein on Wednesday in Game 2, when he struck out five and walked one with four hits allowed in six innings of work. Even in the sixth, when the Braves put those three runs on the board, they never squared him up and instead did their damage with well-placed grounders that eluded the Filly infield defense.

The Braves put together an unlikely big inning in the sixth

Speaking of which, the Braves may have saved the series with that bottom of the sixth. Five straight runners reached base with two outs, which is something the Braves managed to do just five times during the 162-pitch regular season.

Wheeler retired the first two batters of the frame, but then Ronald Acuña Jr. reached when a pitch from Wheeler drilled him on his right elbow. Dansby Swanson then walked, and Matt Olson singled and plated Acuña on a pull-side grounder that first baseman Rhys Hoskins couldn’t quite secure. Austin Riley continued with the theme when he singled on a soft dropper to Wheeler down the third base line that scored Swanson. Finally, Travis d’Arnaud singled on a ground ball up the middle to bring Olson home with the third and final run of the game. That was quite a margin for the Atlanta bullpen.

Kyle Schwarber’s struggles continue

Schwarber during the regular season was a force for Philly, as he put up a 130 OPS+ and led the NL with 46 home runs. These playoffs have yet to be kind to him, though. He went 0 for 7 with four strikeouts in the Wild Card Series against St. Louis, and in Game 1 against the Braves he was 0 for 5 with a strikeout. Add what he did in the 2nd loss – 0 for 4 with three strikeouts – and he is now 0 for 16 with eight strikeouts in the 2022 postseason. Needles to say, the Phillies need their top slugger to find his level back home

It’s now basically a best of three series

With the series tied 1-1, that NLDS is now essentially a best-of-three affair with the Phillies owning home-field advantage (Games 3 and 4 will be at Citizens’ Bank Park, and Game 5, if necessary, back in suburban Atlanta) .

In Game 3 on Friday, Phillies ace Aaron Nola will go for the hosts against an Atlanta starter to be determined. The big question is whether rookie righty Spencer Strider will be able to make the start. He is on the Braves’ NLDS roster after being out since mid-September with an oblique injury.

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