The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Atlanta Braves 9-1 Friday in Game Three of the National League Series. Al Velez now leads the group’s best of five, 2-1, heading into Game Four on Saturday. Another win and Philadelphia advances to the NL Championship Series for the right to play for the pennant against the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Diego Padres.
The third half proved to be the key to the match. Phillies hadn’t mustered a starter through the first two frames against Atlanta rookie Spencer Stryder. Their fortunes changed immediately, as Brandon Marsh worked a four-pitch rally. Jan Segura hit, but his double-playing partner Bryson Stott then held a nine-pound long racket before hitting a double on the right that opened the scoring.
The brave were purposefully walking Kyle Schwarber, a move that would immediately backfire. That’s because Strider threw a slow, lame fast ball in the middle that Rhys Hoskins drilled for three home runs.
Just like that, Velez took a 4-0 lead. But they didn’t end there. Strider was about to walk off the field after dropping a song by Nick Castellanos on the next pitch he threw. Left-wing savior Dylan Lee is going to – don’t you know – give up his own home to Bryce Harper in first Night tone.
Velez, who had a 6-0 lead at that point, was in complete control. That won’t change the rest of the way.
Here are four things to know about the Velez win.
1. Strider returns and collapses
As mentioned in the introduction, most of Phillies’ damage came against Strider. While he was one of the top young starters in the majors during the regular season, he hasn’t played since September 18 due to a tilt injury. Strider wasn’t officially named Game 3 until Friday morning.
Strider started the match well, but it became clear that he lost ground as he struggled to banish Stott based on his wobbly driving and choppy pace:
What’s more is that Strider’s home run against Hoskins happened to have been the slowest fastball of his career, an indication that he wasn’t right.
Given that Strider was presumably on a tight account, it was surprising that we didn’t see anyone warming up behind him until after Velez got to the plate. Manager Brian Snicker explained his thinking after the match, noting that he wanted Strider to go through four runs of work. “As good as he was throwing, we thought we could skate on him.”
Who knows, maybe a faster Strider hook wouldn’t make any difference and the Phillies’ bats would have burned everyone on the hill when Hoskins and Harper walked to the board. But heading into Game 4, Strider’s decision to start and commit on Friday could end up regretting Snitker and Braves if they lose the series.
2. Nola Payments
Strider had a disastrous start. What about his counterpart?
Phillies right-hander, Aaron Nola, threw 6 2/3 closing ins in his Wild Card Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the first playoff of his career. he did not do so far That effort matched Friday, but it gave Phillies another high-quality start.
In fact, Nola worked in the seventh inning, and left after dropping one song for Orlando Archia. His last streak saw him toss six innings of the one-run (unearned) ball, surrendering five hits and two walks while hitting six players across 90 courts. This means that NOLA did not allow a earned round in 12 2/3 rounds of the October Ball.
It should be noted that NOLA’s speed and spin rates were high across all of its stadiums compared to its seasonal standards. He generated 15 beats on 44 pitches, including eight on a spike curve ball. In addition, 11 of NOLA’s 15 balls hit the ground.
Add all that up, and Phillies must be elated with his NOLA month so far.
3. What does history say about Velez’s 2-1 . lead?
According to our research by Dane Berry, teams that advance 2-1 on the LDS Tour have historically won the series about 75 percent of the time. This speaks volumes about the importance of having two attempts to close the series, and indicates that Velez is well placed to advance to the next round, whether it be in four or five matches.
4. What next
The Phillies will be looking to eliminate defending champion Braves and take out their tickets to the NL Championship Series on Saturday with their fourth game victory, and it will be a match between veteran right-hander Charlie Morton who will get the nod for Atlanta in his 18th career. Postseason appearance Philadelphia will face Noah Sendergaard. The first pitch is set for 2:07 p.m. ET.
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