2022 MLB Playoffs: Phillies, Aaron Nola shut the door on Cardinals’ season

By Rowan Kavner
FOX Sports MLB Writer

The most evident benefit getting into the Wild-Card Series for the No. 6 seed Philadelphia Phillies in opposition to the division-winning St. Louis Cardinals used to be their front-line beginning pitching.

In a chain sweep, Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola demonstrated why. 

Wheeler fired 6⅓ scoreless innings in Game 1, Nola adopted with 6⅔ scoreless innings in Game 2, and the Phillies’ first postseason look in 11 years will proceed on to the National League Division Series after Saturday’s 2-0 win at Busch Stadium.

In what had been most probably the ultimate at-bats in their storied careers, Albert Pujols singled in the 8th inning, and Yadier Molina did the similar in the 9th. The Cardinals couldn’t scratch house a run both time, bringing an unceremonious finish to the careers of the St. Louis legends.

“Two of the best to ever play the game, especially at their positions,” Bryce Harper, who homered to start out the scoring Saturday, mentioned earlier than celebrating his workforce’s win. “They’re going to be first-ballot Hall of Fame players. The game’s going to miss those two guys.”

The best different run of the sport used to be manufactured in the 5th inning, when Alec Bohm doubled, moved to 3rd base on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a sacrifice fly.

What went proper for the Phillies

The Phillies can mash with the easiest of them, however it used to be their pitching that carried them via to the subsequent spherical.

St. Louis had no solutions for Nola, who were given a mixed 28 referred to as moves and whiffs on his 101 pitches, and Philadelphia’s maligned bullpen pulled in combination to carry the Cardinals scoreless for the ultimate 2⅓ innings.

The Phillies bullpen used to be considered one of simply 4 reduction teams in the majors with an ERA over 5.00 from September via the finish of the steady season, however José Alvarado used to be the superstar of the unit past due in the yr. He posted a zero.43 ERA with a .118 fighters’ batting reasonable in his ultimate 22 regular-season appearances. Alvarado allowed two runs in the first sport of the Wild-Card Series, however the Phillies nonetheless became to him for 2 outs after Nola’s departure.

Then got here Seranthony Domínguez, who have been considered one of the Phillies’ easiest high-leverage choices earlier than stumbling past due in the season coming off triceps tendinitis. Walks have been a troubling factor for Domínguez, however he buckled down when the Cardinals put the tying run at the plate in the 8th and extinguished the risk.

Zach Eflin, a starter a lot of the yr, has turn out to be the Phillies’ de facto nearer. He completed the Game 1 victory and earned the save in Game 2, stranding the tying runs on base via getting Tommy Edman to come out.

What went mistaken for the Cardinals

St. Louis’ surge to overhaul Milwaukee in the NL Central used to be keyed via an offense that ranked 2nd in the majors in OPS and wRC+ in the season’s 2nd part, but the Cardinals mustered simply 3 runs in the collection and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring place in the two video games.

Their maximum dependable sluggers by no means were given going. Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado mixed to move 1-for-7 in Game 1 and 0-for-8 in Game 2. Each had an opportunity to make a mark in the 8th inning. After Edman grounded out, Lars Nootbaar walked. Domínguez entered to stand Pujols, who ripped a unmarried down the third-base line. Domínguez then struck out each Goldschmidt and Arenado to thwart the Cardinals’ easiest probability to strike.

Key second of the sport

Harper hadn’t gave the look of his commonplace self since getting back from a fractured left thumb that price him two months of the season. The Phillies celebrity slashed .196/.288/.327 with 3 homers from the get started of September via the finish of the steady season, decreasing his OPS from .985 to .877.

But his swing on a dangling breaking ball from Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas in the 2nd inning didn’t glance to be impacted.

Harper pulled a 435-foot no-doubter to proper box. The blast hit 111.6 mph off his bat, making it his third-hardest hit house run of the season, and zapped the power from a crowd on tilt after the earlier night time’s ninth-inning meltdown. 

What occurs subsequent

It’ll be an East conflict in the NLDS, as the Phillies transfer on to stand the Braves.

A sweep allowed the Phillies to save lots of Ranger Suarez, so it’s most probably he’ll get started Game 1 in Atlanta. That would permit for Wheeler to start out Game 2 on commonplace leisure, with Nola to apply.

Postseason baseball is returning to Citizens Bank Park for the first time since the 2011 NLDS. 

Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and NL West for FOX Sports. He prior to now used to be the Dodgers’ editor of virtual and print publications. Follow him on Twitter at @RowanKavner.

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