Nick Castellanos brings chaos, leading Phillies to defeat Braves in NLDS Game 1

ATLANTIS — Nick Castellanos has a way of ruining well-meaning moments. On a bright blue Tuesday afternoon in Georgia, the Phillies the right fielder stomped all over the place brave‘ Marching to a World Series title defense.

Castellanos has become a meme for his trend – through no fault of his own – intrude on solemn on-air moments, such as apologies and eulogies, with clutch shots. While we should probably keep an eye on the stock market and the health of some of our beloved cultural figures, the only injured in Castellanos’ performance of three hits, three RBIs and clutch defense in the first National League Division game The series was the Braves, who lost both the game, 7-6, and home-court advantage in the five-game series.

A daytime game during the work week is a blessing. Everyone else you know is at work or school, and you’re at the base stage. On a day like Tuesday, with high sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s, Truist Park was a baseball fan’s paradise. The crowd was loose, jovial and – in many cases – already a few beers by the time the Braves starter Max fried threw his first pitch.

It didn’t take long, however, for Fried to lose the plot and the Phillies to take the lead. With two outs on the board, Fried pushed JT Realmuto to a full count, and Realmuto hit a two-strike single to keep the inning alive. Castellanos picked him up and the Phillies ended up putting two runs on the board before Atlanta even swung a bat.

The bottom of the first set the tone of the day for the Braves. After a brace from Ronald Acuña Jr. and heads for Austin Riley and Matt Olsonthe Braves charged the bases against starter Ranger Suarez with a single output… only for Guillaume Contreras hit in an endgame double play. Philadelphia hadn’t made the playoffs since 2011, and the Braves are still basking in that 2021 World Championship, but for Game 1, the vibes turned.

Philadelphia Phillies left fielder Nick Castellanos (8) scores a run against the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of the NLDS at Truist Park on October 11, 2022. (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

This year marks only the second time the Braves and longtime division rivals Phillies have met in the playoffs. In the previous showdown, in 1993, the dirty Phillies of John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra and Curt Schilling eliminated the quiet Braves of Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz, four games to two. This Phillies team would go on to lose to Toronto in the World Series on Joe Carter’s memorable home run, which ended Series 6.

Just like that year, the modern Braves lacked superior starting pitches, but the Phillies responded with a series of opportunistic hits that erased that advantage. Philadelphia killed Fried with a thousand cuts, stealing runs in four of the first five innings. Castellanos’ goal-loaded single in the fourth was the decisive blow of the game, putting Philadelphia’s fifth and sixth points on the board en route to a 7-1 lead.

“They’re a very selfless club. We’re getting ahead and adding points,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said after the game. “Our situational hitting was really good today. Our base run was really good, the bag flies… I just thought we played a really good game overall.

The Braves, meanwhile, squandered opportunity after opportunity. Travis d’Arnaud homered to halve Philadelphia’s second lead. Outside of d’Arnaud, however, the Braves batters fought back, leaving nine men on base, with Dansby Swanson – who struck his first four times at bat – the main offender. Until the bottom of the ninth, Atlanta only showed signs of momentum in the bottom of the fifth, scoring two runs on d’Arnaud’s brace.

In the final frame, however, the Braves, down four points, put two men in for Matt Olson, who enters this post-season with the unenviable task of replacing the franchise legend Freddie Freeman. Olson homered quickly, bringing the Braves within one run of the Phillies with just one out.

Contreras was next and roped in a shot into right field that looked certain to go down. But it’s nestled in the glove of a diver… Nick Castellanos. One out later, and Philadelphia had a one-game series lead.

After the match, Castellanos gave a succinct breakdown of how that hold went. “I saw him swinging, I saw him hitting him, I saw him coming towards me, I ran and I caught him as best I could, and it worked” , did he declare. He lay on the ground for a few seconds after catching the ball, thanking the heavens and thinking that two out, nobody in the bottom of the ninth is a much better situation than the zero run anywhere on base.

“He swung the bat really well, had some really big hits, made a great play in the ninth,” Thomson said of Castellanos after the game. “I hope this is the start of something.”

Atlanta clinched a playoff spot several weeks ago and locked in a first-round bye early last week. The Phillies, meanwhile, were the latest entrants to the 14-team playoff field, and started his playoff run with two straight wins over a motivated Cardinals team in an emotionally charged Busch stadium.

“We’re super confident,” Bryce Harper said. “We have to stay on them and keep going, understanding that if we go home 2-0, that’s a big advantage for us, especially going into the playoffs in Philadelphia.”

It’s a long road to the National League Championship Series, but if the Braves want to get back there for a third straight year, they’ll have to go through Castellanos … and it doesn’t seem to end well for anyone but Nick Castellanos.

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Contact Jay Busbee at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.

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