Wild Card Recap | St. Louis vs. Philadelphia

Written by: Sabrina Workman

A New Experience

The trip to the postseason is a new experience for many on this Phillies team. After a challenging season plagued by injuries, the Phillies fought back and got the last wild-card spot in the National League – the sixth seed in the newly expanded postseason headed to St. Louis to face the Cardinals.

The Beginning

The best-of-3 format was played in St. Louis, as the #3 seeded Cardinals gained the home-field advantage. It seemed to prove helpful, that is, until the ninth inning of game one. The first game was a full-out pitcher’s duel between Zack Wheeler (in his first postseason start) and the Cardinal’s Jose Quintana.

In the top of the sixth, Quintana came out of the game and was replaced by Jordan Hicks, who continued the shutout of the Phillies. In the top of the seventh, Hicks was replaced by Giovanny Gallegos, who again continued the shutout. After Nolan Arenado flew out in the bottom of the seventh, Zack Wheeler was pulled and replaced with Jose Alvarado. Juan Yepez was then called in to pinch-hit and hit a 2-run home run off Alvarado. The Cardinals led 2-0. After Gallegos walked Bryson Stott in the top of the 8th, Brandon Marsh came in to replace Matt Vierling, and Gallegos gave the ball to Ryan Helsley. Alvarado gave the ball to David Robertson in the bottom of the inning.

Zack Wheeler pitches Game 1 in St. Louis. He pitched 6.1 innings and struck out 4. Photo by Phillies Instagram.

The Ninth Inning Rally

Going into the top of the ninth, the Cardinals still led 2-0 over Philadelphia. Helsley struck out Rhys Hoskins, but then the rally began. J.T. Realmuto singled on a line drive to left field, Bryce Harper walked, as did Nick Castellanos. Alec Bohm took one for the team, being hit by a 100.8 mph fastball, allowing one run to score. Edmundo Sosa came in for Bohm, and Andre Pallante came in to pitch for St. Louis.

Changing the pitcher didn’t matter; the Phillies were on a rampage. Jean Segura singled on a ground ball, allowing two runs (Harper & Castellanos) to score. Bryson Stott reached base on a fielder’s choice, which enabled Sosa to score. Brandon Marsh singled allowing Segura to cross the plate. Leadoff man Kyle Schwarber flied out on a sacrifice fly but then Bryson Stott scored. With Schwarber out, that brought up Hoskins, who once again struck out. The Phillies then led the Cardinals 6-2.

2nd Baseman, Jean Segura, celebrates getting on base with first base coach, Paco Figueroa. Photo by Phillies Instagram.

Eflin Gets Another Save

Zach Eflin came into the game hoping to get the save. Paul Goldschmidt flied out for out number one, Arenado singled, and Paul DeJong flied out for out two. Dylan Carlson was walked, and Nolan Gorman pinch-hit and singled, allowing Arenado to score. The score was then 6-3, Philadelphia. Yadier Molina struck out swinging to end game one, and the Phillies win 6-3.

Game 2

With the Phillies leading the series 1-0, the anticipated game 2 started at 8:37 p.m. It was a pitcher’s duel for most of the game; it started between Aaron Nola (his first postseason start) and Miles Mikolas for the Cardinals. In the top of the second, the first pitch thrown to Bryce Harper was hit sharply to right field and was a home run; this enabled the Phillies to have the early lead. Aaron Nola threw a 1-2-3 bottom of the second to keep the Phillies ahead, and had another 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the fourth. After Jean Segura was hit by a pitch in the top of the 5th, Jordan Montgomery was brought in to replace Mikolas. Schwarber then flied out on a sacrifice fly but allows Bohm to score. This increased the Phillies lead 2-0.

Pitching Changes Work

Bryce Harper had a base-running error at the top of the sixth; replays show that he was safe, but the call stood as ‘out’. Alec Bohm was intentionally walked, but was caught stealing second to end the inning. After 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th, Corey Dickerson singled which signaled to Phillies manager Rob Thomson, to switch his pitching. Once again, Alvarado came in, he gets the out needed, and it goes on to the 8th. St. Louis has a pitching change as Gallegos replaces Montgomery. Philadelphia also follows suit in the bottom of the inning after Alvarado walked Lars Nootbar; Seranthony Dominguez came in to pitch. After Pujols singled, he is replaced by Ben DeLuzio, and Dominguez struck out Goldschmidt and Arenado to end the inning. Jordan Hicks gets another chance to pitch in the top of the ninth as he came in to the game to pitch. Marsh grounded into a double play, quickly ending the top of the inning. Zach Eflin came in to close for the second day in a row. After a little bit of trouble; with runners in scoring position, Edmundo Sosa caught Tommy Edman’s pop fly in foul territory to end the game. With this catch, the Phillies won 2-0 and advance to the NLDS.

Nola & Eflin

Nola had the start in Houston when the Phillies clinched their postseason ticket. Eflin closed that game as well. The Nola/Eflin punch is a dangerous combo, and it is all in good fun, as both of these pitchers are experiencing their first postseason and are good friends.

Aaron Nola shakes hands with Zach Eflin after he pitched the end of Game 2. Nola and Eflin are some of the longest tenured players on the team. Photo by Phillies Instagram.

That’s for 2011

For Phillies fans, ending the season for St. Louis is an eerie remembrance of when the Cardinals finished the Phillies season in 2011. During the last at-bat that year, Ryan Howard ran and injured his Achilles which ended his season and the ‘trio era’ of Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins. They all would continue to play for the Phillies, but the team began its downward struggle that would continue for years. In a fitting swan song, the Phillies ended the trio of Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, and Albert Pujols’ careers yesterday. Full-circle moments are always sweetest revenge.

NLDS Preview

The Phillies head to Atlanta to face the Braves in a best-of-five series for the National League Division Series. Slated to pitch is Ranger Suarez against Max Fried in Game 1. Game 2 showcases Wheeler again, this time against Kyle Wright. Game 3 brings the postseason back to Philadelphia and will see Aaron Nola, possibly against Spencer Strider. The city of Philadelphia and the team’s fan base are ready to cheer the Phillies on. Game 1 of the NLDS begins at 1:07 p.m. in Atlanta on Tuesday, October 11.

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