Phillies sluggers, Aaron Nola gem put club on brink of NLCS berth

Rhys Hoskins #17 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Rhys Hoskins #17 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Phillies took a 2-1 series lead over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Behind Aaron Nola, the Philadelphia Phillies offense stepped up in a huge way to give the club a 2-1 series lead against the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series.

In their first home postseason game since 2011, the Phillies put on a show and routed the Braves, 9-1. Nola pitched like a true ace once again — tossing six innings with six strikeouts and giving up only one unearned run.

The Phillies offense started slowly against young, talented, Braves right-hander Spencer Strider. He was throwing gas in the first two innings, and Phillies batters struggled to catch up or make contact with most pitches.

That all changed in the bottom of the third, when the Phillies scored six runs. Five of those runs came from home runs by Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper. Both players sent the South Philly crowd into a frenzy.

Hoskins needed something positive to feed off of — after his recent offensive and defensive struggles, the latter of which continued into Friday’s game. One of Hoskins’ defensive blunders occurred in the sixth inning, when he dropped a routine double play ball that would have ended the inning.

The Phillies bullpen impressed as well. José Alvarado, Brad Hand, and Connor Brogdon combined to throw three shutout innings, while striking out four Braves hitters.

The Phils had all facets of the game working Friday night. Nola looked like a seasoned postseason veteran, and the movement and command on his two-seam fastball and curveball were remarkable. The offense had contributions from top to bottom — as six of the nine starters scored runs. The bullpen — including the struggling Brogdon — was able to finish the game without much stress.

The club will look to finish the series and advance to the NLCS on Saturday, as Noah Syndergaard will start opposite Braves right-hander Charlie Morton. The environment at the ballpark is sure to be vibrant as manager Rob Thomson’s squad attempts to continue its postseason journey.

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