Braves vs Phillies score: Takeaways as Philadelphia survives bullpen collapse in NLDS Game 1

The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 7-6 in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Tuesday. The Phillies now have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series and are 3-0 in the playoffs, including their two-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the wildcard round. The result means defending champion Braves, who won 101 games and the NL East title during the regular season, will be desperate for a win in Game 2 on Wednesday.

Braves starter Max Fried struggled and the Phillies chained several two-man rallies. On offense, Atlanta had its chances but wasn’t able to convert often enough despite heavy base traffic – at least until the last inning.

For the Phillies, Nick Castellanos had three hits and three RBIs, and Seranthony Domínguez worked two perfect innings in relief. Overall, the Philadelphia bullpen has retired 11 straight at one point, but the Braves broke through in the ninth against Zach Eflin for three runs. Eflin and the Phillies, however, were able to avert disaster and hold on to the win.

Now for some takeaways from Game 1.

The Braves made it (very) interesting at the end of the ninth

The Phillies were leading 7-3 in the bottom of the ninth, giving them nearly a 99% chance of winning the game. Then the Braves opened the frame with back-to-back singles before Eflin scored a strikeout for the first out. In one fell swoop, slugger Matt Olson brought the Braves back in one pass:

That made it 7-6 and obviously put the Phillies’ plans for an easy Game 1 in serious jeopardy. The next batter, William Contreras, raised a bloop to the right, but luckily for the Phillies, Castellanos was on the spot:

Castellanos is a well-established liability on the court, but he stood out in a big way for the second set. If that ball slips under his glove, then Contreras is in scoring position — and possibly third base — with one out. Instead, the Phillies had two outs with empty bases. Eflin was then able to pull Travis out of Arnaud on a grounder to end the threat of miracle status.

Max Fried didn’t have it

The Braves tabled left-hander All-Star Fried to start Game 1 with good reason. During the regular season, Fried put up a 2.48 ERA with an equally sparkling 5.31 K-to-BB ratio in 185 ⅓ innings. Yes, the Phillies’ roster this season has been adept at dealing with left-handed throwing, but Fried during the regular season has done pretty well against them (a 3.13 ERA with no RWs allowed and 25 strikeouts to five involuntary walks in 23 innings plus four starts).

Well, to say the least, Tuesday didn’t go the way Fried and the Braves had hoped:

It’s no surprise in light of these numbers that the Philadelphia Bats weren’t fooled at all in Game 1:

During the regular season, Fried’s shortest start was five innings, and his season high for runs allowed in a start was five years back on April 7, his first outing of the season. As for the game score, which is a quick and dirty metric from Bill James that measures a pitcher’s dominance or lack thereof at any given start (50 is the average and anything 90 or more is a absolute gem), Fried’s worst mark during the regular season. was 37, again, on April 7. In Game 1 against Philly, Fried’s game score was 25. He hasn’t reached those depths since making his debut against the Marlins on April 13 last year.

For what it’s worth – and it might be worth nothing at all – Fried entered this one on ten days off since his last start on September 30.

Travis d’Arnaud brought the power of the playoffs again

Let’s give the Braves something positive from this one, shall we? Veteran catcher Travis d’Arnaud got the Braves on the board in the second with this home run against Phillies starter Ranger Suárez:

That outburst gives d’Arnaud eight home runs in 49 career playoff games with the Mets, Rays and Braves. And that puts him in the following all-time receiver rankings:

During his 10-year MLB career, d’Arnaud averaged 22 homers in 162 games played, and this season he hit a career-high 18 spankings in 107 games for Atlanta. It’s a good pop, especially by positional standards. This good pop was in the spotlight at the start of the first game. Also, d’Arnaud in the fifth notched a two RBI brace that brought the Braves within striking distance.

The Phillies are now well placed

Historically, teams that win Game 1 of an MLB best-of-five playoff series win that series 71.3% of the time. Teams that steal Game 1 on the road to a best-of-five, like the Phillies did, win this series 71.7% of the time. This last number is significant because it indicates that even the presumed underdogs of the series – usually the team that starts the series on the road – have done just as well after winning the first game of the series.

Specific to this series, this is significant for the Phillies as they won a game in which their No. 3 starter was up against the No. 1 Braves starter. Now the Phillies will have their tandem aces, Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, lined up to start the next two games on complete rest.

Speaking of which, Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday with the first pitch at 4:35 p.m. ET back at Truist Park. Wheeler will go for the Phillies against Kyle Wright of the Braves in a right-handed duel.

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