In NLCS Game 5 on Saturday, the Philadelphia Phillies received a stellar performance from their ace Zack Wheeler and some powerful hits from their batters, putting them just one win away from a back-to-back trip to the World Series.
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A Recap of the Game:
A Game 5 in a tied series can be a defining moment for a pitcher, especially when the bullpen is exhausted from consecutive losses in Games 3 and 4. Four relievers, Jeff Hoffman, Orion Kerkering, Craig Kimbrel, and Jose Alvarado, had already pitched in both those games, and Phillies manager Rob Thomson prefers not to use relievers three days in a row.
However, Wheeler handled the situation with ease. The right-hander, who has a five-year, $118 million contract, proved to be one of the most valuable players in recent baseball history. He dominated the D-backs’ offense for seven innings, only allowing a run in the seventh when Alek Thomas hit a solo homer.
Wheeler’s final stats for the game included six hits, one earned run, one walk, and eight strikeouts, totaling 99 pitches. His career postseason ERA now stands at an impressive 2.48 in 61⅔ innings.
If the Phillies successfully close out the series, there will be numerous contenders for the NLCS MVP title. However, Wheeler’s outstanding performances in Game 1 and Game 5 make him a top candidate. He leads all pitchers in the postseason with 26 innings pitched over four starts.
After Wheeler, Hoffman contributed another scoreless inning in the eighth, followed by Seranthony Dominguez and Matt Strahm to finish the game.
On the offensive side, the Phillies continued their aggressive hitting, a trend that has characterized their postseason performance.
Crucial Moment in the Game:
The Phillies maintained their tradition of scoring early in Games 1 and 2, and they repeated it in Game 5. Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper singled in the first inning, with Bryson Stott driving in Schwarber to put the team on the scoreboard.
During the same inning, Harper managed to steal home during a double steal, which didn’t end well. An inaccurate throw caused D-backs catcher Gabriel Moreno, who has suffered injuries in the postseason before, to collide with Harper. Fortunately, Moreno stayed in the game, but the Phillies were now leading 2-0.
Schwarber’s contributions extended beyond the first-inning run.
In the sixth inning, the Phillies’ power-hitting leadoff hitter smashed a massive homer off the D-backs’ Cy Young contender, extending the lead to 3-0. According to Statcast, the homer traveled a staggering 461 feet, as seen on video replays.
This homer brings Schwarber’s career postseason total to 20, tying him with Derek Jeter for fourth place in MLB history. Only Manny Ramirez, Jose Altuve, and Bernie Williams have hit more playoff home runs.
Not to be outdone, Harper hit his own colossal homer, measured at 441 feet, just two batters later.
Finally, J.T. Realmuto sealed the 6-1 victory with a two-run homer in the eighth inning.
What to Expect Next:
The teams will travel back to Philadelphia for Game 6, scheduled for 5:07 p.m. ET on Monday. The Phillies will send Aaron Nola to the mound, while the Diamondbacks will start Merrill Kelly.
A win for the Phillies in Game 6 would mean the end of the NLCS and secure their place in the World Series for the second consecutive year.
David Rodriguez brings the excitement of Major League Baseball to readers. With a deep appreciation for America’s pastime, he covers the latest MLB news, scores, and player achievements, keeping fans up to date with their favorite teams and players.