Thursday, July 18, 2024

Phillies vs. Braves highlights, score: Bryce Harper, bullpen lead Philly in stunning Game 1 shutout win

The National League Division Series opened at Truist Park on Saturday night and, like last year, the Philadelphia Phillies went on the road and took Game 1 from the Atlanta Braves (PHI 3, ATL 0). Game 1 last season was a chaotic high-scoring affair. Game 1 this year was much tighter, with clutch defense and pitching ruling the night.

Bryce Harper scored Philadelphia’s first two runs in very different ways. In the fourth inning he drew a walk, advanced to second when Spencer Strider threw away a pickoff, then scored on Bryson Stott’s two-out, two-strike single. In the sixth, Harper launched a missile of a solo home run. It left his bat at 115 mph. Look at this blast:

In the last two postseasons Harper is 10 for 18 with three home runs against the Braves. He has tormented them. Harper and Stott went a combined 4 for 5 with a homer and three walks in Game 1. The rest of the Phillies went 2 for 26 (.077). 

Lefty Ranger Suárez started and faced the minimum through three innings, but once the Braves threatened in the fourth, manager Rob Thomson went to his bullpen. Six relievers — Jeff Hoffman, Seranthony Domínguez, José Alvarado, Orion Kerkering, Matt Strahm, Craig Kimbrel — held the Braves scoreless across the final 5 1/3 innings.

The game’s biggest outs came in the eighth inning, when Trea Turner made a brilliant diving stop to begin an inning-ending double play with runners on the corners. Game 1 was the first time in more than two calendar years — since Aug. 28, 2021 — the Braves were shut out at home.

The Phillies now lead the best-of-three series 1-0. Historically, the team that wins Game 1 of a best-of-five has gone on to win the series 71% of the time. Sunday is an off-day and Philadelphia will give the ball to ace Zack Wheeler in Game 2 on Monday. Atlanta will start Max Fried, their ace, though he hasn’t pitched since Sept. 21 because of a blister.

Atlanta won an MLB-best 104 games during the regular season. They must win Game 2 to avoid going to Citizens Bank Park down 2-0 in the NLDS.

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