Things got dicey in the latter half of the game, but the Philadelphia Phillies hung on to win the all-important Game 1 of the National League Championship Series 5-3 over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Phillies started their NLCS in style. They swung early and swung often, jumping on Arizona starter Zac Gallen with three solo home runs in the first two innings.
Schwarber ignited the Citizens Bank Park crowd with a 420-foot blast to right field on Gallen's first pitch of the game. Two batters later, birthday boy Bryce Harper turned the volume up even more at The Bank when he hit his own 420-foot homer on the first pitch he saw. Harper is the fourth player to homer in the postseason on his birthday, and the two first-inning home runs were the Phillies' fifth and sixth first-pitch home runs of the playoffs.
To cap off the hat-trick of early home runs, Castellanos took Gallen to the opposite field in the second inning for his fifth homer in eight at-bats. The Phillies would tack on another run in the third and again in the fifth for a 5-0 lead.
Gallen would make it through the fifth and leave after giving up five runs on eight hits, including the three solo home runs. He struck out four and walked two.
The early home run barrage staked Wheeler to a comfortable lead, and he ran with it.
After a Corbin Carroll broken-bat, bloop single to lead off the game, the rookie remained anchored to first while Wheeler mowed down the next three hitters. He didn't stop there, retiring the next 15 Diamondback hitters in a row with surgical-like precision. Arizona finally got to Wheeler in the sixth when veteran Evan Longoria singled and came home on a Geraldo Perdomo two-run home run to cut the lead to 5-2.
Wheeler ended up going six innings, giving up only the two runs on three hits while striking out eight in what was yet another stellar playoff performance by the Phillies ace. Per Paul Casella of MLB, Wheeler's 0.70 WHIP is the lowest of any pitcher in MLB postseason history (minimum of five starts).
The bullpen made things interesting, allowing the Diamondbacks to bring the tying run to the plate in each of the last three innings. After Seranthony Domínguez gave up a run in the seventh, José Alvarado pitched a clean 1 1/3 innings before handing the ball over to Craig Kimbrel for the ninth.
Kimbrel made fans a little nervous by walking Gabriel Moreno with one out but induced a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. double play to finish things off. The veteran of 27 postseason appearances is now a perfect 10-for-10 in save opportunities in the playoffs.
Now with a 1-0 lead in the NLCS, the Phillies turn their attention to Game 2 on Tuesday night. They'll send Aaron Nola to the hill against Arizona's Merrill Kelly.