Game 2 of the National League Championship Series took place on Wednesday at Petco Park, as the Phillies entered play looking to take a 2-0 series lead back to the city of brotherly love.
Blake Snell, who last pitched in a game three win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series, drew the start for San Diego. Philadelphia opposed with Aaron Nola – the second part of the two-headed monster perched atop this rotation and an arm that’s yet to allow an earned run this postseason across his two outings.
After a 1-2-3 inning from Blake Snell in the first, the Padres threatened Nola early. Manny Machado ripped a double off the inner wall in left field with two outs but was left stranded after Jake Cronenworth struck out looking.
It was the Phillies who struck first the following frame.
Bryce Harper and Nicholas Castellanos started the inning by flaring two weak singles, putting a runner in scoring position with nobody out. Alec Bohm squared around to bunt and, after taking a pitch from Snell, peppered a pitch to right field to score Harper. All three batted balls were below 85 mph, while the formers pair of hits each registered below the 72 mph mark.
Philadelphia added to their lead after Matt Vierling hit a fly ball to right fielderJuan Soto. What appeared to be a routine out turned into a free run after Soto lost the ball in the sun. Edmundo Sosa flared a single to left field that Jurickson Profar likely should have caught, and Kyle Schwarber roped a fielder’s choice to first base, extending the Phillies’ lead to 4-0 before the inning’s conclusion.
Brandon Drury entered play struggling mightily in the performance aspect of the game despite ripping off several quality hacks prior. His first swing of this game was an absolute missile down the left-field line for a solo home run. The next pitch from Nola also left the park as Josh Bell deposited a 94 mph two-seamer high into the right-field bleachers. After two, the Padres trailed 4-2.
Despite defensive struggles behind him, Snell pitched brilliantly after that second inning. He kept a potent Phillies’ offense quiet through the next three brilliant innings, ultimately giving the Padres a chance to creep back into this game.
San Diego’s offense proved what it’s capable of doing in the bottom of the fifth inning. Ha-Seong Kim started it off by spraying a single to left field. Trent Grisham took an aggressive hack and sent one deep to the center field warning track into the glove of Matt Vierling for the first out.
Austin Nola, the brother of the Phillies’ starter, as you all may know by now, worked a few pitches off his brother before peppering a single into the right-center gap. Kim, who was already in motion, came all the way around to score, bringing the Friars within one.
Jurickson Profar backed Nola up with a single to right field, bringing the everso dangerous Soto to the plate with a chance to make an impact. Soto took a pitch, then whiffed on a changeup, and then hammered a ball down the right-field line.
The Phillies left Nola in to pitch to Machado, a decision that was met with some skepticism at the time but ultimately worked into their favor. Machado struck out on a low-and-away slider, earning the second out of the inning and ending Nola’s day.
Philadelphia turned to Brad Hand as their first arm out of the ‘pen. The former Padres’ southpaw was brought in to face Jake Cronenworth, who struggles against left-handed pitching and was hitting out of the cleanup spot. Hand generated some ugly swings from Cronenworth with his patented slider but plunked him with a two-strike sweeper that didn’t break.
Suddenly the bases were loaded, and up stepped Drury, an early hero with the intention to break this game open for his squad. Drury worked a full count, spitting on a few low-and-in sliders and fouling a few off. He won the battle with Hand, flaring a two-run into center field for the lead. That brought Bell up to the plate, and the Padres’ designated hitter delivered again, roping a ball past first base for his second RBI of the day. After batting around, San Diego led Philadelphia 7-4 through five.
Bryce Harper responded rather quickly to the Padres’ rally by booming a double off the right-center field fence to lead off the sixth inning. Thanks to a valiant effort by Nick Martinez, however, Harper never came home to score. He punched out Nicholas Castellanos and induced weak ground ball outs from Alec Bohm and Jean Segura to escape unscathed.
Martinez made quick work of the Phillies’ offense in the seventh. He struck out Vierling rather easily, erased Stott on a perfectly backspun upper-quadrant fastball, and forced Schwarber to chop a routine groundout to Machado. Martinez’s availability and versatility have been crucial to the Padres’ success down the stretch.
The eighth innig started with a bang for the Padres. Manny Machado fought a few pitches off from David Robertson, spit on a low-and-away slider, and pummeled a hanging 92 mph cutter deep to left-center for a solo shot. Through seven, the Padres led 8-4.
Rhys Hoskins started the eighth inning with a powerful hack, driving a high-90s heater from Robert Suarez 409 feet to left field. It was the first run that Suarez had allowed at Petco Park all season. The Phillies cut into the lead slightly, making it 8-5.
J.T Realmuto singled, and with Harper up to bat, things looked grim for the Padres. Suarez blew a handful of high-90s fastballs past the Phillies’ star and forced a ground ball right to Machado, who picked it, delivered a near-perfect throw to Kim at shortstop, and watched as the Padres turned an impressive double play to erase any threat. Suarez struck Castellanos out on three pitches in the next at-bat to end the inning.
With three outs to g,o the Padres turned to Josh Hader to close things out. He struck out Alec Bohm on a 100 mph up-and-away heater, did the same with Jean Segura, and did the same with Vierling. After what appeared to be a grim start and the thought of the series heading back to Philadelphia down 2-0, the Padres rallied and evened things up.