The Philadelphia Phillies’ long wait for a home playoff game ends Friday when they play host to the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.
It will be the Phillies’ first home playoff game since 2011 when they ultimately fell in five games in the NLDS to the St. Louis Cardinals. It will also be their first game back at home since Sept. 25.
The Phillies split the first two games of the current NLDS on the road against the defending World Series champion Braves. Their 7-6 victory in Game 1 was followed by a 3-0 defeat Wednesday.
Getting back to something of a regular routine has been welcomed. Philadelphia played its final 10 regular-season games on the road, swept the Cardinals in two consecutive games during the NL wild-card round in St. Louis and then traveled to Atlanta for two games.
“It feels great (to be home); I don’t think I’ve done laundry in a month,” Phillies outfielder Brandon Marsh said. “Just kidding. Feels good to be back and playing in front of our crowd.”
The Phillies will hand the ball to Aaron Nola (1-0, 0.00 ERA postseason; 11-13, 3.25 ERA regular season). The right-hander was spectacular in his postseason debut against the Cardinals, tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings on four hits.
“We can’t wait for it,” Nola said of Game 3. “It’s going to be electric. It’s something special.”
The Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber, who led the NL with 46 home runs, has struggled mightily in the playoffs in an 0-for-16 slump with eight strikeouts. Rhys Hoskins, who misplayed a grounder by Matt Olson which led to Atlanta’s go-ahead run in Game 2, is 1-for-18 with six strikeouts.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson said Thursday that Schwarber and Hoskins will continue to bat Nos. 1 and 2 in the lineup.
“I’ve just got to be able to make the adjustments and go from there, put in a good day’s work and be ready to go here on Friday,” Schwarber said.
The Braves shook off a rain delay of nearly three hours in Game 2 and dazzled on defense. Now they’ll look to take a 2-1 series lead on the road.
“I’ve been in Philly when it’s crazy,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “When I was a third-base coach, every game we played there was nuts. It’s going to be, I guess, the so-called hostile environment.”
Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley each made a stellar catch while tracking down popups over their heads, starter Kyle Wright dominated over six innings and the Braves pushed across just enough offense to propel them to the Game 2 victory.
Most importantly, they survived a major scare to Ronald Acuna Jr. He was hit by a Zack Wheeler fastball on the right elbow in the sixth inning but stayed in the game. Snitker said that there was no structural damage following a lengthy examination.
Snitker had no update Thursday but said of his outfielder, “I’m sure he’s fine.” Acuna is expected to be back in the starting lineup for Game 3.
With or without any of their standout players, the Braves have proven that they don’t wilt under Snitker’s guidance.
“I think we just never lose that faith,” Acuna Jr. said. “We never lose that energy. We maintain that focus, and we know that we got to play to 27 outs, and we feel like you know, if there haven’t been 27 outs, we still have a chance.”
Said Snitker: “They don’t get caught up in the moment. They keep a slow heartbeat and stay in the moment.”
Rookie right-hander Spencer Strider was named the Braves’ starting pitcher on Friday morning.
Strider (2022 postseason debut; 11-5, 2.67 ERA) hasn’t pitched in a game since Sept. 18 due to an oblique issue.
Prior to the injury, Strider became the first pitcher in major league history to strike out more than 200 batters while allowing fewer than 100 hits.
Strider is 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA in four career appearances (three starts) versus Philadelphia.