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Six-run third propels Phillies past Braves in NLDS Game 3, 9-1

Spencer Strider’s postseason debut didn’t quite go as planned, and the Braves’ bats were stifled by Aaron Nola as the Phillies took a 2-1 lead in the series.

Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Three Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

In his first appearance since an oblique issue sidelined him on September 18, Spencer Strider was dominant before giving up five earned runs in the third, and the Braves’ offense could not figure out Aaron Nola in Game three of the NLDS on Friday afternoon. With the 9-1 win, the Phillies take a 2-1 lead in the series.

In the first, Ronald Acuña Jr. led off with a single through the left side on the first pitch of the game. Matt Olson then drew a one-out walk despite Nola getting up 0-2 in the count, and though Austin Riley beat out the throw on a would-be double play ball to Alec Bohm to put runners on the corners with two outs, Travis d’Arnaud stranded them with a groundout to Nola.

The bottom of the frame featured a Strider who came off the IL having not missed a beat—his first pitch was a 98 MPH strike to Kyle Schwarber, and he nearly touched 101MPH against JT Realmuto a few batters later. He would retire the Phillies in order with a pair of strikeouts in 14 pitches.

Both pitchers put together clean second innings, as Nola struck out the side, and Strider used just 15 pitches for his 1-2-3 frame, including this slider to send Bryce Harper down swinging.

Acuña Jr. reached base for the second time courtesy of a bad throw from Bohm in the third, but the Braves couldn’t capitalize.

Strider’s command started to get a little erratic in the third inning, with the rookie walking Brandon Marsh on four pitches to give the Phillies their first baserunner of the game and going to a full count on Jean Segura before earning a swinging strikeout. The walk to Marsh would prove costly, though, as an errant pickoff attempt resulted in the Philadelphia centerfielder standing at third with one out, and Bryson Stott won a nine-pitch at bat with an RBI double to right field.

The Braves chose to then intentionally walk Schwarber, and the next four batters all went on to get some kind of hit on the first pitch they each saw.

First, Rhys Hoskins blasted a three-run homer to left field to give the Phillies a 4-0 advantage. Of note, Strider’s velo had been down a bit in the frame, and his fastball registered at a season-low-tying 93.8MPH on the homer pitch.

A Realmuto single signaled the end of Strider’s day, and Dylan Lee was greeted by a towering two-run homer off the bat of Harper. Nick Castellanos then singled, but Lee ultimately got a pair of pop-ups to end the string of hits and the inning with the score at 6-0.

After d’Arnaud hit a one-out double in the fourth but was stranded at second, Jake Odorizzi entered the game for the Braves. While things did get a little dicey due to a four-pitch walk and HBP, Odorizzi ended up throwing a clean frame and kept the momentum going for two more. He retired the side in order on just 10 pitches in the fifth, and a one-out walk turned into an inning-ending double play in the sixth.

The Braves’ bats remained quiet against Nola until they finally scored a Hoskins-error-aided run in the sixth. Dansby Swanson led off with a double, Olson drew another walk, Riley struck out, and d’Arnaud grounded into a certain double play, except Hoskins dropped the throw to allow runners to remain on the corners. Michael Harris II then bounced a single over Hoskins to score Swanson, good for Harris II’s first postseason hit and RBI. He also got his first postseason stolen base, but Ozuna stranded him and d’Arnaud with a groundout to short.

The Braves sent two pinch hitters to the plate to start the seventh, the first being Orlando Arcia for Vaughn Grissom, and the second being William Contreras for Eddie Rosario. The former singled, ending Nola’s outing in favor of José Alvarado, who struck out the latter en route to also shutting down Acuña Jr. and Swanson.

Odorizzi’s day ended in the bottom of the seventh after Schwarber led off with his first hit of the postseason and Hoskins walked, which turned into runners on the corners with one out after Jesse Chavez eliminated Hoskins on a Realmuto grounder to second. Harper then hit a ball that Harris II nearly caught at the wall but dropped for an RBI double, and Castellanos brought Realmuto and Harper home with a single to right field. Bohm then grounded into a double play to end the frame with the score at 9-1.

The game’s last offense came in the form of d’Arnaud’s second double of the game, this one to the wall in centerfield, with two outs in the eighth.

Game four of the series—an elimination game, which the Braves did not face during the entire 2021 postseason—is tomorrow, with first pitch scheduled for 2:07PM at Citizens Bank Park. The Braves will send Charlie Morton to the mound, and the Phillies are yet to announce their starter in what’s expected to be a bullpen game.

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