The Phillies opened up their first playoff series since 2011 with a bang, earning a heartracing 6-3 victory over the Cardinals in St. Louis. Zack Wheeler was every bit the ace we’ve come to know and love, but the offense failed to support him. In fact. The Phils entered the ninth inning trailing 2-0 before a wild comeback capped off an unbelievable game.
Wheeler continued his stellar work since coming off the Injured List in September, firing 6.1 scoreless innings, while surrendering only three baserunners and fanning four. The resurrected José Alvarado was called upon to finish out the seventh, but surrendered a pinch hit two-run home run to Juan Yepez to give the Redbirds a 2-0 lead.
That score would hold until the ninth inning, when the Phillies finally got something cooking. All-Star closer Ryan Helsley took the hill for the Cards, but he had been dealing with a finger issue all week, and it clearly affected him in this one. Rhys Hoskins struck out to begin the frame, but a J.T. Realmuto single gave the Phillies life. Helsley then walked Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos to load the bases with one out, and plunked Alec Bohm to drive in a run.
With Helsley ineffective, Cardinals Manager Oliver Marmol tasked swingman Andre Pallante with working out of the jam. He immediately surrendered a seeing-eye single to Jean Segura which drove in two, making it 3-2 Phils. Our boys continued to pour it on from there, as an unbelievable slide from Edmundo Sosa scored another run on a Bryson Stott grounder, while Platinum Glover Nolan Arenado botched a routine grounder from Brandon Marsh to drive home the Phillies’ fifth run. The scoring ended on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kyle Schwarber which made things 6-2 Phillies.
Zach Eflin, the same man who closed out Monday’s playoff clinching game in Houston, was called upon to do it once again on Friday. Eflin wasn’t completely untouchable, as the Cardinals got to him for one run on two hits and a walk, but it was too little, too late for St. Louis.
The Phillies remarkably are only one victory away from winning their first playoff series since the days of Chase Utley and Roy Halladay. Game two of this three-game set will kick off at 8:37 PM when Aaron Nola will look to outduel Miles Mikolas.