Two games of the NLCS are in the books, and the stacks are leaning very heavily towards the Philadelphia Phillies, who smoked the Arizona Diamondbacks 10-0 in Game 2 to sweep at home and pack a commanding 2-0 series lead to Chase Field. Aaron Nola picked up the win with six strong shutout innings, while Merrill Kelly was saddled with the loss despite throwing 5 2⁄3 innings of very solid ball, making only a few mistakes — all punished — before the visiting bullpen unraveled with the game on the line.
The Phillies once again struck early on Kelly and the Diamondbacks, adding to their historic postseason power surge — 15 home runs hit in a four-game series sets an MLB postseason record — with a Trea Turner solo shot as the second batter of the game. Kelly settled in momentarily, but he couldn’t fool Kyle Schwarber twice, and the second time Philadelphia’s leadoff hitter faced him he got just enough of a changeup off the end of the bat to sneak it into the first row of the right field seats
Aaron Nola, meanwhile, had no such hiccups in the early going, striking out two in the first inning and holding the road side largely off of the bases, though he did receive some help via excellent defense at the hot corner, courtesy of Alec Bohm.
Even though the Diamondbacks began to scatter some hits against Nola in the middle innings, you never got the sense that they had much hope of stringing something together against him, who is simply hard to hit when he’s locating two-strike pitches like this:
Aaron Nola, Painted 93mph Two Seamer. ️ pic.twitter.com/tnmUw2j5iX— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 18, 2023
Kelly once again settled in for a while thereafter, keeping the game at 2-0 and setting the rest of the Phillies lineup down in order the second time through. Then Schwarber came up to hit again, and, well, he got a better piece of this one than the last one.
At that point, all hell broke loose, and the game was suddenly a lot less interesting. Kelly followed up the Schwarber homer with a walk to Turner, then yanked after retiring Bryce Harper and Bohm. Lefty Joe Mantiply was tasked with getting the third out — but lefty Bryson Stott singled and stole second. Then J.T. Realmuto drove a double into the left-center field gap, widening the game gap to 5-0.
It got uglier with this Brandon Marsh double down the line, which made it 6-0, the score at which it would rest after Johan Rojas grounded out to end the inning. Mantiply didn’t do his job, and things didn’t go much better for Ryne Nelson when he took over with one runner on in the seventh inning. Yet another Phillies barrage of hits later, the score was an even 10-0. Realmuto finished with three runs driven in, and Schwarber reached base in three straight plate appearances after making the first out of the game. Bohm finished with two more ribeyes of his own, courtesy of this double in the midst of the second of two four-run innings:
The seventh was also the end of the day for Nola, who hardly sniffed a scent of trouble all game in his second start of at least six shutout innings this postseason. He gave way to former first round pick Jeff Hoffman in the seventh inning, who proceeded to combine with Matt Strahm and Orion Kerkering to provide a stress-free back third of the game for a Phillies bullpen that’s gone from laughingstock to powerhouse in recent months.
The Phillies are two wins away from the World Series, but they’ll get the day off tomorrow as both sides travel out West, and we’ll instead be treated to Game 3 of Houston’s ALCS showdown with Texas — a series which, of course, requires virtually no travel. Max Scherzer will make his playoff debut for the Rangers, a scary sight for a Houston team in a 2-0 hole. The Astros slate Cristian Javier to start, a hurler riding a streak of 11 straight scoreless innings dating back to his last start of the regular season. Wednesday’s game is set for first pitch at 7:03 p.m. CT, and can be watched on Fox Sports 1. The NLCS series will resume on Thursday at 4:07 p.m. CT, with the Phillies having yet to announce a starter opposite Brandon Pfaadt for the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.