Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gregory Bull/AP/Shutterstock (13476574k) Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler throws against the San Diego Padres during the third inning in Game 1 of the baseball NL Championship Series between the San Diego Padres and the Philadelphia Phillies, in San Diego NLCS Phillies Padres Baseball, San Diego, United States – 18 Oct 2022
NL Championship Series, Game 1: Phillies 2, Padres 0 (Philadelphia leads 1-0)
With three 100+ win teams entering the Postseason on the National League side of the bracket and Philadelphia and San Diego each beginning with a Wild Card Series on the road, very few people could have predicted that the Phillies and Padres would be battling it out in the NLCS. Fans at Petco Park were chomping at the bit to get the series underway in San Diego, unexpectedly hosting a Game 1 with their ace, Yu Darvish, on the mound.
Darvish did not disappoint in the early going, striking out five Phillies through the game’s first three innings without allowing a runner to advance past first base. Phillies’ ace Zack Wheeler, pitching his third consecutive Postseason game on the road, was exceptionally efficient while working through three innings in just 37 pitches while facing just one batter over the minimum. Bryce Harper would finally break the seal in the top of the fourth, hitting a towering solo home run into the left field seats that put Philadelphia ahead, 1-0. The home run was Harper’s fourth in just seven Postseason games this season, part of a Phillies’ offense that has caught fire thus far in October. Kyle Schwarber led off the sixth with a home run of his own, a ridiculous 488-footer into the upper deck in right field that came off his bat at 120 miles per hour and increased Philadelphia’s lead to 2-0.
Padres’ manager Bob Melvin removed starter Yu Darvish after seven innings, an excellent starting pitching performance marred by two solo home runs that left him in line to pick up a loss. Nick Martinez and Luis Garcia handled business the rest of the way, keeping the Padres within striking distance while their offense worked tirelessly to have a shot at Philadelphia’s bullpen.
They’d finally get that chance in the eighth, when Phillies’ manager Rob Thomson turned to Seranthony Dominguez despite a manageable pitch count from Zack Wheeler. Wheeler’s seven innings were borderline perfect, an efficient performance that saw him throw just 83 pitches while allowing just two baserunners and striking out eight. Seranthony Dominguez would do his job to help make Wheeler’s efforts count, pitching a perfect eighth while striking out two. Jose Alvarado was called upon to close the game out in the bottom of the ninth, a lefty hoping to improve on a mediocre 5.40 ERA over five appearances this Postseason. The inning got hairy for Alvarado in a hurry, suddenly staring down the barrel at Juan Soto representing the tying run after issuing a one out walk to Jurickson Profar. Soto’s ensuing ground ball to third baseman Alec Bohm looked like a tailor-made double play ball that could’ve ended the ballgame, but a throwing error sent the ball trickling into right field without an out being recorded and Manny Machado stepping into the box. Jose Alvarado dealt with the adversity well from there, retiring both Machado and Josh Bell without any damage to preserve the Game 1 win and flip home field advantage in the Phillies’ direction.
Game 2: Wednesday, 3:35pm CT