Two games in and two wins for the 2021 Phillies, but this one was a little more stress-free than the last. The first 4.5 innings were a traditional pitcher's duel, with the only interruption being the Phanatic’s new shoes:
Both Zack Wheeler and Charlie Morton both came out dealing, with Wheeler’s 99.5 mph fastball retiring Acuna to lead it off. And until the bottom of the 5th, the only three hits were singles, which both Morton and Wheeler throwing their best stuff early:
But in the bottom of the fifth, Morton finally started to crack as with two outs, Jean Segura singled to center and Roman Quinn was hit by a pitch, so who else but Zack Wheeler to walk up to the plate and deliver this beauty?
Right after, McCutchen was walked and the bases were loaded for first baseman Rhys Hoskins, who lasered the 1-2 pitch over third base, and scored two runs of his own!
After intentionally walking Harper, JT Realmuto finally grounded out to third to end the disastrous 30 pitch, three-run inning for Morton. But instead of giving up runs of their own, the Phillies didn’t allow a hit for the rest of the game and got the last 23 Braves batters they faced out. In the bottom of the 6th, 3rd baseman Alec Bohm and shortstop Didi Gregorious were on base as Wheeler again came up to the plate and again DELIVERED with a drive down the left field line that scored another and put runners on second and third!
The game remained scoreless until the 8th and 9th innings, where Wheeler's gem of a day on both sides ended, and Archie Bradley took the mound. In no time, three were up and three were down in only 9 pitches (with an assist from a Bryce sliding catch), and Hector Neris closed out the 9th with three strikeouts, including the dagger on Ronald Acuna Jr., who is 0-7 with a walk in 8 plate appearances against Neris in his career, including 5 strikeouts.
Performance of the Game: P Zack Wheeler
It was the obvious choice for the man who outhit the entire opponent singlehandedly and gave the Phil’s some juice in the most unexpected way. He finished the day throwing 62 strikes on 90 pitches, with 10 strikeouts, no walks, earned runs, and only one hit, which came in the top of the second.
The Phillies try to keep their winning streak going on Easter Sunday, facing the Braves for the third and final game of this mini-series, at 1:05 on ESPN. Zach Eflin will take the mound, as he and the bullpen will no doubt try to maintain the Phillies' strong pitching thus far, with two runs over two games. On the offensive side, CF Adam Haseley might be back on Sunday, who will take the speedy Roman Quinn’s spot in the lineup. For the rest of the lineup, look for Alec Bohm to get his first hit on Sunday, and Bryce to finally get the home runs he’s come close to over the first two contests.
Standings-wise, the Phillies will be first in the NL East no matter the result, with the Mets and Nationals series called off, and the Marlins and Braves both sitting 0-2 on the young season.