Austin Riley’s clutch homer, crazy game-ending double play lifts Braves over Phillies, ties NLDS
The Philadelphia Phillies were four outs away from taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five NLDS and heading back home – but Austin Riley had other plans.
The Atlanta Braves third baseman, on a full count, just needed a base hit to bring in the tying run that was standing on third base.
But small ball is boring and home runs win games. So, he took Jeff Hoffman deep to give Atlanta a 5-4 lead. That was the score the Braves won by, but it did not come without several bullets of sweat.
Bryce Harper led off the top of the ninth with a walk against A.J. Minter, forcing Brian Snitker to bring in Raisel Iglesias for the save. Iglesias got J.T. Realmuto to fly out, but Nick Castellanos gave one a ride deep into center field. However, Michael Harris II made an incredible leaping catch against the wall.
Harper, though, sensed that the ball would drop, so he never tagged up. By the time Harris II caught the ball, Harper was in between second and third, and Atlanta was able to double him off, although just barely, to end the game.
APP USERS VIEW THE PLAY HERE.
Atlanta dropped Game 1 in their home ballpark, and they were down 4-0 in the sixth inning, so it’s fair to say that panic probably began to settle in for the 104-win club and its fans.
But an Ozzie Albies RBI single in the sixth gave the Braves life, and Travis d’Arnaud hit a two-run home run of his own in the seventh.
Now, with an insane ending, momentum is on their side.
The Braves have used the long ball all season to win – their 307 homers and .501 slugging percentage both were the most in MLB history in a single season, and their 104-58 record was the best in the big leagues this season.
The series heads to Citizens Bank Park, which was one of the wildest atmospheres last fall as the Phillies won their first pennant since 2009. That stayed true during their wild-card round sweep of the Miami Marlins.
Aaron Nola is the Phillies’ scheduled starter for the contest; the Braves have yet to announce who will take the bump, but it’s likely to be Bryce Elder or AJ Smith-Shawver.