Written by: Sabrina Workman
Game 1 | In San Diego, PHL Wins 2-0
National League Championship Series | San Diego Padres v. Philadelphia Phillies
The Start of it All
The National League Championship Series started in San Diego’s Petco Park. Both starting pitchers seemed a bit erratic, as Yu Darvish and Zack Wheeler had uncharacteristically high pitch counts and threw pitches that they didn’t normally throw. Both pitchers were back to their usual selves by the second inning. Darvish recorded a 1-2-3 inning, getting back-to-back strikeouts on Nick Castellanos and Alec Bohm; Bryson Stott then flew out to left field to end the top of the second. Wheeler was back in his form in the bottom of the inning, as he got back-to-back strikeouts on Jake Cronenworth and Wil Myers. Ha-Seong Kim flew out to center field to end the second. Darvish continued on his warpath, striking out Jean Segura and Brandon Marsh in the top of the third; after allowing a single to Kyle Schwarber, he struck out Rhys Hoskins to end the Phillies half of the third.
Wheeling & Dealing
Wheeler quickly kept momentum as he got three groundouts on Trent Grisham, Austin Nola, and Jurickson Profar. Darvish started the fourth by striking out J.T. Realmuto. Bryce Harper then continued his streak getting a home run in a third consecutive game. After Harper’s solo home run, Castellanos and Bohm got out by flying out to left and striking out, respectively. Wheeler continues to deal, as he strikes out Juan Soto and gets Manny Machado and Josh Bell out with line drives – both caught by center fielder Marsh. Darvish piggybacked on the momentum from Wheeler, getting the Phillies in a 1-2-3 top of the fifth; Stott, Segura, and Marsh all grounded out. Wheeler stayed in the game, getting Cronenworth out on a fly ball before allowing a single to Myers. Kim fouls out with a catch by Hoskins, and Wheeler ends the inning by striking out Grisham.
The top of the sixth brought the top of the lineup for Philadelphia, and with it came Schwarber. Schwarber steped up to the plate and hits a solo home run, going 488 feet at 119.7 miles off the bat. Harper’s face said it all, as proven by the stats since 2015 (when statcast started!). This monster home run was not only the second longest home run ever in the postseason, but it was the hardest hit ball ever in the postseason, the longest home run ever in Petco Park, the longest and hardest hit home run ever by a Phillies player as well as in Schwarber’s career.
The Middle Innings
After Schwarber scored the run, Hoskins, Realmuto and Harper failed to add on. But Wheeler continued to be powerful, getting another 1-2-3 inning as Austin Nola flew out to Castellanos at the wall and Profar and Soto both struck out. The Phillies didn’t fare much better in the top of the 7th, as Castellanos, Bohm, and Stott came up and went right back down. To end Wheeler’s impressive showing, he got outs on Machado and Bell and struck out Cronenworth.
The top of the 8th brought pitching changes to San Diego. Nick Martinez entered the game to replace Darvish. Martinez handled the Phillies quickly, getting Segura to fly out and striking out Marsh and Schwarber. In the bottom of the 8th, the Phillies changed some things around, bringing Matt Vierling in place of Schwarber in left field and Seranthony Dominguez to the mound to pitch. Dominguez was efficient, getting Myers to strike out, Kim to pop out, and Grisham to strike out. In the ninth, Luis Garcia replaced Martinez and was also efficient as Hoskins popped out, Realmuto had a groundout, and Harper flew out to Soto. To end the first game, Jose Alvarado entered to get the save. He got Nola out walked Profar and allowed Soto to reach on a fielder’s choice (because of the shift), but got the last two outs on Machado and Josh Bell to ensure a game-1 win for Philadelphia. Phillies 2, Padres 0
Game 2 | In San Diego, SD Wins 8-5
Nola vs. Nola
In game 2, the Phillies started Aaron Nola, meaning he was to pitch to his brother, Austin Nola (the catcher for San Diego). The Nolas are the sixth pair of brothers to face each other in a postseason game, but the first pitcher and batter combination. This isn’t new to the Nola’s as they’ve faced each other before. In 2021 Aaron struck out Austin, but previously this year, Austin scored a run off of Aaron (which lead to the winning run for the Padres). To start the game, Schwarber flew out, and Hoskins and Realmuto followed suit as Blake Snell got a 1-2-3 inning. Nola fired back in the bottom, starting with a strikeout to Profar and a groundout to Soto. Machado doubled but was left stranded as Cronenworth struck out.
Harper, Castellanos, and Bohm singled to start the second inning. Bohm’s single scored Harper as Soto committed a throwing error. Segura struck out, but then Vierling (who played center against the left-handed Snell) doubled to score Castellanos. The rally continued as Sosa singled to score Bohm, and Schwarber had a groundout but scored Vierling. Hoskins flew out to end the inning. With a 4-0, nothing can go wrong, right? The Phillies are 7-2 in franchise history when leading by 4+ runs in the postseason.
All Hell Breaks Loose
Everything goes wrong at the bottom of the second. Nola allows two back-to-back solo home runs to Brandon Drury and Bell. Nola settled himself and then went 1-2-3, getting Kim out on a groundball, Grisham out on a line out to Hoskins, and his brother, Austin, out on a groundout as well. Snell continued to be a force to reckon with as the top of the third went 1-2-3, with Realmuto, Harper, and Castellanos all getting outs on the left side of the field. Nola redeemed himself a little bit in the bottom of the third, getting a 1-2-3 inning on a flyout and groundout by Profar and Soto and a strikeout on Machado. The Phillies also went 1-2-3, courtesy of Snell, as Bohm struck out, Segura grounded out, and Vierling struck out. The bottom of the fourth went quickly as Aaron Nola struck out Cronenworth, got Drury on a line out, and struck out Bell. Snell did quick work of the Phillies in the top of the 5th, starting with Edmundo Sosa’s strikeout. Snell allowed a walk to Schwarber but he was stranded as Hoskins and Realmuto also struck out.
Nola Loses His Cool
Aaron Nola took to the mound in the bottom of the fifth but started to lose his cool. Kim singled, Grisham flew out, and then he let his brother, Austin Nola, single to score Kim. Aaron continued to lose control allowing Profar and Soto single and score Austin Nola. Aaron Nola faced Machado and struck him out before being replaced with Brad Hand. Hand hit Cronenworth and lets Drury single, which scored Profar and Soto. Hand then allowed Bell to single, scoring Cronenworth and prompting a replacement with Andrew Bellatti coming in to pitch. Kim walked, and Bellatti struck out Grisham to end the inning. Martinez once again came in as the set-up man for San Diego, replacing Snell at the top of the 6th. Martinez allows Harper to double, but he is stranded as Castellanos struck out and Bohm and Segura both grounded out. In the bottom of the 6th, the Phillies brought in Connor Brogdon. He got a 1-2-3 inning, having Austin Nola fly out and striking out Profar and Soto.
Philadelphia Can’t Stop Them
Martinez is quick and efficient in the top of the seventh, striking out both Vierling and Stott, who came in to the game to pinch hit for Edmundo Sosa and then getting Schwarber with a ground out. The Phillies chose to bring in David Robertson in the bottom of the seventh. Robertson gave up a homer to Machado and a single to Cronenworth before getting the first out with Drury’s lineout to Schwarber. Robertson got Bell to single and had Kim pop out before putting Kyle Gibson in the game. Gibson got the job done, striking out Grisham and ending the inning.
The Comeback Attempt
In the top of the eight, San Diego brought in Robert Suarez. He gave up a solo home run to Hoskins and then allowed Realmuto to single. Harper grounded into a double play, and then Castellanos struck out to end the inning. Gibson remained in the game and got a quick out with Austin Nola’s groundout. Gibson gave up a walk to Profar and then got an out on Soto before letting Machado single. Cronenworth’s groundout ended the inning. The Phillies had little to no chance of a comeback in the top of the ninth as the Padres brought in their closer, Josh Hader. Hader was efficient, striking out Bohm, Segura, and Vierling to end the game. San Diego took game two of the NLCS 8-5. The Phillies left San Diego with a split and an off day.
Game 3 | In Philadelphia, PHL Wins 4-2
Ranger Suarez took the mound for Philadelphia and was efficient quickly. After striking out Kim and Soto, Machado flew out to right field to end the top of the first. Schwarber decided to capitalize on the ‘Schwarber-fest’ that Wawa (a local convenience store chain) started and hit a lead-off homerun. Hoskins was walked, and then Joe Musgrove had the first of his meetings on the mound. It didn’t do much good as Realmuto was then walked, and Musgrove promptly hosted another mound visit. Harper grounded into a double play, and Castellanos grounded out to end the inning. Suarez continued to be powerful, striking out Drury and then allowing a single to Cronenworth before getting the second and third outs on Myers and Profar with flyouts. Musgrove had a quicker second inning, getting Bohm on a groundout and then allowing Stott to double. Stott was stranded as Segura flew out and Marsh struck out. Suarez dominated in the top of the third, getting Grisham out immediately. Austin Nola came up to the plate, and the stadium started to chant, ‘Aaron’s Better!!’; it must have rattled Nola as he hit into a groundout. Kim grounded out as well to end the inning. Despite the chants to distract him, Musgrove powered through, getting a 1-2-3 inning on Philadelphia. Schwarber flew out, Hoskins struck out, and Realmuto lined out to end the first three innings.
The Middle of It All
The top of the fourth started with Soto being hit by a pitch, sending him to first. Machado then flew out to center, and Drury singled. Cronenworth then reached on a fielder’s choice, which allowed Soto to score and prompted a mound visit. The visit worked as Suarez got Myers to fly out and Profar to ground out. The bottom of the fourth started with Harper’s single, but it didn’t get the Phillies anywhere as Castellanos hit into a double play. Bohm singled, and then Stott doubled, and after a mound visit, Segura singled, which allowed Bohm to score. Segura was successfully picked off at first to end the inning. With the exception of Grisham reaching because of an error, the top of the fifth went quickly for Suarez. He got Nola, Kim, and Soto out on ground outs to minimize the damage.
The top of the sixth brought Zach Eflin in to pitch; he quickly got Machado out with a groundout before allowing a single to Drury and one to Cronenworth. San Diego brought Bell in to pinch hit for Myers, and he hit into a double play. In the Phillies half of the sixth, Realmuto and Hoskins both grounded out. Castellanos then doubled, as did Bohm allowing Castellanos to score. San Diego went to the bullpen to bring in Tim Hill, who forced Stott to ground out to end the sixth. The Phillies continued to change pitchers as Jose Alvarado came in. After allowing a lead-off single to Profar, he struck out Grisham and Nola before Kim grounded out. After the stretch, Segura got out on a groundball, as did Marsh. Schwarber singled, and Vierling came on to run for him. The Padres took Hill out and brought Pierce Johnson in, and he struck Hoskins out.
Securing the Win
Alvarado allowed a single to Soto and then was finished for the day as Dominguez came in. Dominguez went for the Phillies’ first six-out save in the postseason in 42 years as, on the 21st of October 1980, when Tug McGraw sealed the 1980 World Series Phillies win. Dominguez did just that; he struck out Machado and got Drury and Cronenworth out with line drives. The Phillies went down quickly in their half, as Johnson struck out Realmuto and got a flyout and a groundout on Harper and Castellanos, respectively. Dominguez continued to pitch in the ninth, and the Phillies switched Bohm for Sosa at third base. After allowing a single to Bell, Dominguez shut it down. He struck out Profar (and Profar argued and got ejected!), Grisham popped out, and to end game 3; Dominguez struck out Austin Nola. The Phillies won 4-2 and took the lead in the series 2-1.
Game 4 | In Philadelphia, PHL Wins 10-6
The Crazy First Inning
With game 4 slated to be a bullpen game, Bailey Falter had the start for Philadelphia. He started great, getting Profar and Soto out on a pop-out and a grounder. He then gave up a solo homer to Machado and allowed Bell to single and Cronenworth to walk. The Phillies took their first mound visit and, after Falter allowed a double to Drury, scoring Bell and Cronenworth, Brogdon was brought in to pitch. Brogdon allowed Kim to single-scoring Drury, and then he struck out Grisham to end the first. San Diego started Mike Clevinger, who didn’t fare much better. He allowed Schwarber to single and then gave up a home run to Hoskins. He walked Realmuto before the Padres paid him a visit on the mound. After allowing a double to Harper, which scored Realmuto, Martinez was brought in to replace Clevinger. Martinez got Castellanos to ground out and struck out Stott and Bohm.
Back to a (Relief) Pitcher’s Duel
Brogdon stayed in the game and went 1-2-3 against San Diego. He got a mixture of flyouts and lineups on Nola, Profar, and Soto. Martinez also held his cool, getting Segura and Marsh out with fly balls. He struck out Schwarber. Brogdon continued to be efficient, striking out Machado and getting Bell out with a pop-out before Cronenworth grounded out. The bottom of the third was 1-2-3 for Philadelphia as Hoskins, Realmuto, and Harper lined out, grounded out, and flew out, respectively. Andrew Bellatti came in to start the fourth. Bellatti struck out Drury and got Kim to pop out in foul territory before striking Grisham out.
Tying it Up
San Diego brought in Sean Manaea to pitch the bottom of the fourth. Manaea gave up a double to Castellanos before striking Bohm out. Stott then singled to score Castellanos, but Stott was out at second on a perfect throw from the outfield. Segura lined out to end the fourth inning. The fifth inning saw Brad Hand come in for Philadelphia. Hand got Nola to groundout and then he walked Profar before giving up a 2-run home run to Soto. Machado popped out to Hoskins in foul territory before Bell grounded out to end the inning. Manaea continued to pitch for the Padres, and he struck out Marsh to start the bottom of the fifth. After allowing a walk to Schwarber, Manaea gave up a 2-run home run to Hoskins which tied the game. After a mound visit, Realmuto was walked, and Harper doubled, allowing Realmuto to cross the plate. At that point, Luis Garcia was brought in for San Diego. Castellanos singled to score Harper before Garcia struck out Bohm. Stott flew out to end the inning.
Power at the Top
The top of the sixth brought Noah Syndergaard in from the bullpen. He pitched well, getting Cronenworth and Drury out on groundouts. He gave up a single to Kim before getting Grisham to fly out. In the Phillies half, Segura struck out, and Marsh flew out. Schwarber continued his fantastic postseason run by getting a home run to add an extra insurance run for Philadelphia. Hoskins popped out to end the inning. To start the seventh, Austin Nola flew out before Profar singled. David Robertson was brought in to pitch and got Soto out on a a force play; allowed a single to Machado and struck out Bell. The Padres changed their pitcher to Steve Wilson. Wilson gave up a home run to Realmuto before getting Harper out with a grounder. Castellanos popped out, and then Bohm grounded out to end the inning.
Finishing Game 4
Robertson continued to pitch for Philadelphia, and Sosa was brought in to replace Bohm. Robertson was efficient, striking out both Cronenworth and Drury before getting Kim out with a grounder. Adrian Morejon was brought in at the bottom of the 8th to pitch for the Padres. Morejon struck out Stott before allowing Segura to single. Segura was stranded as Marsh flew out, and Schwarber popped out in foul territory. To end game 4, Zach Eflin was brought in to pitch. Eflin got Grisham on a flyout and then struck out Nola. Profar grounded out to end the game. Philadelphia won 10-6 and took a commanding series win of 3-1.
Game 5 | In Philadelphia, PHL Wins 4-3
An Elimination Pitcher’s Duel
Game 5 was a rematch of Game 1’s starting pitchers. Wheeler was quick, getting groundouts on Profar and Soto. Machado struck out to end the first. Darvish also got the Phillies out quickly. After allowing a walk to Schwarber, Hoskins hit into a double play, and then Realmuto struck out. Wheeler continued to be efficient, getting Cronenworth out with a line out and then striking out Bell and Drury. Darvish started the bottom of the second by allowing Harper to single before Castellanos hit into a double play. Bohm got hit by a pitch, and Stott flew out to end the second inning. Wheeler got two strikeouts in the top of the third, retiring Kim and Grisham. Nola grounded out to end the top of the third.
Making it Interesting
Segura grounded out at the bottom of the third, and Marsh flew out before Schwarber walked. After Schwarber was walked, he stole second, and then Hoskins hit a 2-run home run. Realmuto singled but was stranded as Harper lined out. To start the fourth, Profar lined out, but then Soto hit a solo home run. Machado grounded out before a pitch hit Cronenworth. Bell grounded out to end the inning. Castellanos was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the fourth before Bohm and Stott lined out. Segura struck out to end the fourth.
Play Through the Rain
The rain, which had started earlier, was coming down a little harder by the top of the fifth. Wheeler didn’t let it phase him as he got Kim to pop out in foul territory, struck out Grisham, and got Nola to groundout. Darvish also did not let the rain get to him. He struck out Marsh and got Schwarber to fly out before he gave up a walk to Hoskins. Realmuto struck out to end the inning. Wheeler was efficient in the sixth, as Profar popped out, and Soto and Machado struck out. Darvish was also quick in the bottom of the inning as he struck out Harper, Castellanos popped out, and Bohm flew out to end the sixth.
With the rain coming down harder, Wheeler allowed Cronenworth a single before Dominguez replaced him. Dominguez threw a wild pitch before Bell doubled and scored Cronenworth. Jose Azocar came on to pinch run for Bell. He didn’t move much as Dominguez struck out Drury and Kim. The rain continued to fall, and Dominguez threw two wild pitches, allowing San Diego to take the lead when Azocar scored. Grisham flew out to end the top of the seventh. In the bottom half of the seventh, Stott doubled off Darvish. Robert Suarez was then brought in for the Padres. Suarez got Segura out on a fly ball, and then he struck out Marsh. He intentionally walked Schwarber to face Hoskins, who flew out to end the inning. Alvarado came in to start the top of the 8th. He struck out Nola, allowed a single to Profar and a walk to Soto. He finished out his outing by allowing no runs as Machado popped out and Cronenworth grounded out.
Finishing It Off
After a lead-off single in the bottom of the 8th from Realmuto, Harper hit what may have been the most impactful home run of his career. Harper’s homer gave the Phillies a 4-3 lead. Castellanos then struck out, Bohm grounded out, and Stott struck out to finish the inning. The Phillies put Sosa in to replace Bohm and Robertson in to pitch the top of the ninth. Wil Myers replaced Azocar as the designated hitter and struck out. After Robertson allowed walks to Drury and Kim, Ranger Suarez came in to finish the game. Grisham had a sacrifice bunt, advancing the runners. The final out was a flyout by Austin Nola caught by Castellanos. With this last out, the Phillies won the game 4-3 and the series 4-1. Bryce Harper was named MVP of the NLCS. The Phillies now advance to the World Series against the Houston Astros. Game 1 of the World Series begins Friday, October 28th in Houston.