What can we say about Nick Castellanos? After a huge game on Wednesday when he connected for two home runs en route to a Phillies’ 10-2 victory over the Braves, he was up for an encore performance on Thursday night. However, his home runs in the series-clinching game were definitely a lot bigger than the ones he provided the night before.
His first home run came right after the Braves had gone ahead 1-0 on Riley’s solo blast in the top half of the fourth inning. Not only did that help the Phillies get on the board, but it also quickly changed the momentum back to the home side right away.
More important was his second home run of the game, which he hit in the sixth. It gave the Phillies a crucial insurance run to work with that ended up being the difference in the seventh and ninth innings when the Braves threatened to score.
Ultimately, because of the two-run cushion provided by Castellanos, Atlanta didn't want to push their luck. They cautiously refused to risk running into an out at home just to score their second run that wouldn't have even tied the game.
Finally, the most unlikely hero of the game was Phillies’ reliever Matt Strahm. With the usual closing options of both Kimbrel and José Alvarado unavailable due to their utilization earlier in the game, Strahm was the lucky bullpen candidate who was called upon in the top of the ninth inning to help close one of their most important games of the season.
In the ninth, the Braves managed to get their first two batters on base against Phillies’ reliever Gregory Soto, putting the tying run at first base and the go-ahead run at the plate with nobody out. With the game and series on the line, it couldn’t have gotten more intense as Strahm took over from Soto.
However, tough as nails, Strahm calmly and casually retired the next two Braves’ batters, followed by a huge strikeout of Vaughan Grissom to end the game, sending everyone home happy. Strahm had come up big for the Phillies throughout the 2023 season. He posted nine wins, two saves and 11 holds during the regular season, but no performance was bigger than on Thursday night.