Through more than five innings on Monday evening, the Atlanta Braves were utterly lifeless. After losing Game 1 in shutout fashion, the game’s best offense was no-hit for nearly six innings by Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler in Game 2, with the Phillies taking a 4-0 lead that seemed to be almost insurmountable. Then, the Braves began to chip away, first with a manufactured run with two outs in the sixth and then with a pair of two-run home runs from Travis d’Arnaud and Austin Riley to take their first lead of the series.
Erasing a four-run deficit would be cause for enough excitement in any playoff baseball game but, after Atlanta took the lead in the eighth, there were more fireworks to come. In fact, Phillies star Bryce Harper earned a walk to open the inning, prompting a pitching change and, after a harmless first out, Nick Castellanos smashed a baseball 392 feet to center field at Truist Park in Atlanta.
Fortunately for the Braves, 392 feet wasn’t enough to clear the fence, with center fielder Michael Harris II making a wonderful catch to begin a game-ending double play.
Not only did Harris save a likely game-tying run with the catch, but he quickly flung the ball back to the infield. While the initial execution was not perfect for Atlanta, third baseman Austin Riley stepped in, secured the ball, and delivered a strike to first base to double off Harper, who understandably strayed far from first base thinking he would score. In short, this play would have been wild under any circumstances, but for it to cap a playoff game in which the favored home team overcame a four-run deficit was the stuff of baseball madness.
The Braves and Phillies will reconvene on Wednesday, with the action moving to Philadelphia for Game 3 and Game 4. Overall, an argument could be make that Philadelphia did its job in stealing a split on the road, but Game 2’s finish will have everyone talking until Game 3 begins in nearly 48 hours.