Bryce Harper makes sure Braves, Arcia know who's top dog in huge Game 3 win

Harper had a game for the ages as the Phillies demolished the Braves 10-2 in Game 3 of the NLDS.
Trea Turner, Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies - Game Three
Trea Turner, Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies - Game Three / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

It wasn't supposed to be this easy.

But the Braves, or more specifically Orlando Arcia, poked the bear. And the bear woke up.

Bryce Harper welcomed the Braves to Philly with a postseason performance for the ages as the Phillies crushed the visitors 10-2.

Game 3 of the NLDS started off close, with the intensity and nerves you’d expect from a tie-breaking game where the winner would end up one win away from clinching the best-of-five series and a berth in the NLCS.

Both starters looked to be in complete control through the first two innings. Aaron Nola gave up a pair of soft singles in the first but had four strikeouts through two. Atlanta's Bryce Elder also collected four punchouts over his first two innings of work.

Then the fun started.

The runs came fast and furious in the third inning. In the top half of the frame, after giving up a run, Nola got out of a jam with a big strikeout of Marcell Ozuna, stranding a pair of baserunners.

Six-run third inning, Harper's three-run homer sink secure win

The Phillies' bats came alive all at once in the bottom of the inning. Castellanos got things rolling with a solo home run, a towering shot that was hit high enough to make it into the left field stands.

Then, with two on, the bear strode to the plate. Looking to redeem himself after Game 2, Bryce Harper demolished a 2-1 Elder slider for a mammoth three-run homer to deep right.

The 109.5 mph, 408-foot blast was majestic. Harper made sure to admire his handy work before rounding the bases, giving Braves' shortstop Arcia a long staredown as he rounded second, before making a slashing gesture across his throat before crossing home plate.

The game was over at that point, according to Harper.

He wasn't far off. J.T. Realmuto capped off the six-run third inning with a two-run double, and the Phillies' bats just kept adding on throughout the rest of the game in a thorough dismantling of the top regular season team.

Harper added to his postseason legend when he hit another home run in the fifth and stared Arcia down for a second time as he rounded the bases. This one was a 414-foot blast to center that cleared the fence and Michael Harris' outstretched glove.

The raucous Citizens Bank Park crowd was also treated to home runs from Turner in the sixth and back-to-back shots from Castellanos and Brandon Marsh in the eighth.

For his part, Nola was incredible in the crucial swing game. He pitched into the sixth, ending his night after 5 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts and only two runs allowed.

Matt Strahm cleaned up the final out of the sixth, and manager Rob Thomson got clean innings from Seranthony Domínguez, Orion Kerkering and Michael Lorenzen out of the bullpen while managing to save his highest-leverage arms for Thursday.

Even with Spencer Strider on the hill for Atlanta in Game 4, with Bryce Harper now fully awake and in "playoff Harper" mode, the Phillies have a good shot at finishing the Braves off on Wednesday night.