It wasn't the light-hearted romp of a night earlier, but the Philadelphia Phillies got the job done. Recapturing their NLDS magic from a year ago, they took care of business at home, finishing off the Atlanta Braves in Game 4 to punch their ticket to the NL Championship Series for the second straight year.
The Braves had all kinds of energy and momentum coming into Philadelphia. But the resilient Phillies came up with a huge 10-2 rout on Wednesday and then did just enough to put together a nail-biting, series-clinching victory in Game 4 tonight.
Ranger Suárez started things off on the right foot and did his job. The lefty baffled the Braves yet again, going five solid innings. He only registered two strikeouts but kept the Braves off the bases for the most part. He allowed three hits, and the only blemish on his line was a solo home run by Austin Riley in the third that made it 1-0.
On the other side, Braves' starter Spencer Strider was good but not good enough. He struck out seven over his 5 2/3 innings but allowed three runs, all on solo homers. It could have been a whole lot worse for Strider as he navigated around traffic on the bases for the first few innings.
Nick Castellanos plays Game 4 hero
Nick Castellanos, who hit a pair of home runs on Wednesday, was the thorn in Strider's side tonight. The Phillies' right fielder evened things up in the bottom half of the third when he took a first-pitch slider deep to left.
After a Trea Turner solo shot in the fifth, Castellanos took Strider deep again in the sixth for a 3-1 lead and knocked the Braves righty out of the game. All told, Castellanos hit 419 feet of home runs off of Strider, and in doing so became the first player in MLB history with multi-homers in back-to-back postseason games.
Rob Thomson uses his bullpen to perfection again
Phillies manager Rob Thomson went deep into his bullpen in this one, bringing in Seranthony Domínguez and José Alvarado in the sixth. Craig Kimbrel had to get out of a bases-loaded situation in the seventh against none other than Ronald Acuña Jr, who he got to fly out to deep left center.
Gregory Soto finished the eighth, but the inning ended with a scary collision at first base when Matt Olson ran into Bryce Harper's surgically repaired elbow. Luckily for the Phillies, their MVP returned to the game and appeared to be fine.
"I'm good, just hit my funny bone," Harper said post-game.
Matt Strahm was called on to close out the final frame. With runners on the corners, he got pinch-hitting rookie Vaughn Grissom to go around on a check swing strike three.
Now it's on to the NLCS for the Phillies, where they'll face off against the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks, who are on a roll of their own after sweeping the Brewers in the Wild Card and stomping out the Dodgers in three straight.