Phillies rely on home crowd to boost Game 3 & 4 against Braves
The Phillies rely on the home crowd to provide lift; hits would help too originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
After 17 nights in a hotel room, what’s one more?
When the start of Game 2 of the National League Division Series was delayed nearly three hours by rain on Wednesday, Phillies officials decided it was best not to travel to Philadelphia late at night. . To maximize rest, the team pushed back its charter flight from Atlanta to Thursday morning.
While the match was being played on Wednesday evening, personal luggage was returned to the hotel. Players and staff returned after the game and got a good night’s sleep before heading home to prepare for Game 3 on Friday afternoon. It will be the franchise’s first postseason home game since Oct. 7, 2011, the night Roy Halladay left everything on the mound and Ryan Howard fell to the ground, clutching his left leg in pain.
In all, the Phillies have spent 18 consecutive nights at hotels in five cities: Chicago, Washington, Houston, St. Louis and Atlanta.
It was an eventful journey. Nerves were on edge when the team was swept away in Chicago. They calmed down in a rainy Washington. Houston brought the jubilation as the team clinched a playoff berth on its first night in town. St. Louis brought euphoria and a first-round sweep for the Cardinals. Atlanta brought good and bad, but ultimately a reason to feel optimistic. Because who wouldn’t have signed up for a split of the first two games against the 101-win Braves before heading home for the next two games?
“It’s huge,” said manager Rob Thomson. “Obviously we wanted to win those two games. We had the chance. But leaving here with a split and going home to a packed house of fans which I think will give our lads a little boost. will be great.”
Friday afternoon’s first pitch is scheduled for 4:37 p.m. Game 4 kicks off Saturday afternoon at 2:07 p.m. The Phillies expect full sell-outs for both.
Aaron Nola, who is coming off an outstanding performance in the two most important starts of his career, will receive the ball on Friday afternoon. The Braves will counter with Spencer Strider or Charlie Morton, both right-handed. The Phils bludgeoned Morton for six runs in 4⅔ innings in late September, but he pitched 6⅔ shutout innings against them in early August.
Rookie Strider, with his electric fastball, was ruthless on the Phils. He was 4-0 against them this season. He’s allowed just three runs in 21⅔ innings and gone 34. If Strider starts, he could be held just a few innings because he hasn’t pitched since Sept. 18, when he gave up a single hit. and struck out 10 in six innings. against the Phillies.
Nola tossed 13⅓ scoreless innings and allowed just six hits and one walk while striking out 15 in his last two starts, the playoff tiebreaker at Houston and the first-round tiebreaker at St. Louis.
He is 44-24 with a 3.18 ERA in 101 career starts at Citizens Bank Park.
He will be ready.
The question is, will the Phillies offense be ready? Zack Wheeler had been on an equally impressive streak as Nola and he suffered the loss in Game 2. There were plenty of reasons why the Phillies lost that one, 3-0. Wheeler hit a batter and scored another with two outs in a scoreless game in the sixth. First baseman Rhys Hoskins then failed to make a play that would have ended the inning without the Phils giving up a run. Instead, three runs from two outs came home. Atlanta fans went crazy. Ball game.
While the sixth inning was ultimately the Phillies’ loss in Game 2, their lack of offense was a killer. They had just three hits in the game and just two against starter Kyle Wright, who was outstanding in six innings.
The Phils, who have homered just one in four playoff games, will need to get support for Nola. A wake up call from the top of the batting order is a must. So far in four playoff games, point guard Kyle Schwarber is 0 for 16 with no walks, eight strikeouts and two sacrificed flies. Hoskins, the No. 2 hitter, is 1 of 18 with no walks and six strikeouts. His struggles date back to the regular season, where he’s finished 1 of 19 in his last five games.
“You want to do whatever you can to either get on base and set it up for the people behind you or hit the guys because they’re on base,” Hoskins said. “I feel like I’ve had some really good batsmen so far. I also feel like I’m getting pretty tough, but that’s what happens in the playoffs. I always say this, the harder is getting to the box. If you can just keep stepping into the box with some confidence, you have a good chance of something good happening. So keep trying to swing the strikes and be prepared for them when they arrive.
Thomson has publicly stated that he remains with Schwarber in the front row. Schwarber thinks he is making too many mistakes.
“I have to be able to put the ball in play,” he said. “I’m the guy at the top of the lineup. I have to be able to go to the base and start things for these guys. I don’t feel bad or anything at home plate. So I just gotta be able to make the adjustments and go from there. Have a good day at work. Be ready to go on Friday.
The Phillies are counting on The Bank to make the difference over the next two days. If necessary, a deciding Game 5 will be replayed in Atlanta on Sunday.
“I think going back to Philadelphia will be the most important thing,” Schwarber said. “It’s going to be an exciting atmosphere. It’s going to be on our side. Go ahead, feed on the atmosphere and play our game. Obviously that’s not the No. 1 scenario. You want to come back 2-0 up. But 1-1 is still a good place to be.”
Harper loves the adrenaline of a big crowd. He’s ready for it.
“It will be electric, absolutely,” he said. “I expect nothing less.”
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