After beginning Game 2 of the NLDS by recording the first six out via strikeout, it looked like Philadelphia Phillies ace Zack Wheeler was in for a special night. And for more than six innings, it was very special.
The only blemish in those first two frames was a second-inning Trea Turner fielding error on a routine ground ball that most certainly shouldn't have given the usually slick-fielding shortstop a problem.
While Wheeler was stymying the Braves' bats early, his teammates pushed Atlanta starter Max Fried to the limit through his four innings. Fried, who came in with a questionable finger blister situation, didn't look like himself, walking four and giving up three runs on six hits while only striking out three Phillies.
Turner led off the Phillies offense in the first with a one-out double and came home on a Bryson Stott single. They left the bases loaded, failing to capitalize on a prime opportunity to blow it open early. J.T. Realmuto padded the lead to 3-0 with a two-run home run in the third.
With a 4-1 lead going into the seventh, it looked like Wheeler was cruising, but Rob Thomson and the Phillies looked to have him on a short leash. Unfortunately, things unraveled quickly for Wheeler when Travis d'Arnaud knocked him out of the game with a one-out, two-run homer. Wheeler finished the night with 10 strikeouts, giving up only two earned runs on three hits.
The Phillies were still in control with a 4-3 lead going to the eighth, but Jeff Hoffman beaned Ronald Acuña Jr., and then in a swing that will haunt Phillies fan's nightmares, Austin Riley deposited another two-run blast into the left field bullpen to put the NL East champs up 5-4.
That's all the Braves would need, as Raisel Iglesias closed it out on a wild sequence in the ninth inning. With Harper on first, Nick Castellanos's deep fly was somehow tracked down by Michael Harris II, who made an incredible leaping catch against the wall in deep center. Shockingly, the Braves doubled off Harper, who had strayed too far around second, obviously thinking the ball would drop.
After such a promising start, the NLDS is all tied up 1-1. While a split in Atlanta is a respectable outcome, and most fans would have gladly taken that result before the series, this loss feels like a punch in the gut.
Now the Phillies must regroup and head back to Philadelphia for a big Game 3 on Wednesday. If there's anything we've learned about this team, it's that there's no lack of resilience or quit in this group and the'll be ready to go in a must-win game at Citizens Bank Park.