Phillies upset Cardinals to reach first NLDS since 2011

ST. LOUIS — The Philadelphia Phillies finished a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals of their NL Wild Card Series on Saturday with a 2-0 victory.

Philadelphia’s stars confirmed up in Game 2, with Aaron Nola pitching 6 2/3 shutout innings, Bryce Harper hitting a solo domestic run in the second one and Kyle Schwarber offering an insurance coverage run with a sacrifice fly within the 5th.

The win vaults Philadelphia into the NL Division Series for the first time since 2011 and ends the mythical careers of Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina.

Molina gave St. Louis an opportunity along with his ultimate at-bat within the 9th inning, singling off Zach Eflin with two outs. But Tommy Edman fouled out to 3rd to finish the sport.

The victory additionally avenges the Phillies’ loss to the Cardinals within the decisive sport of that 2011 NLDS, highlighted via an epic pitchers’ duel between Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay.

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, talking sooner than the beginning of this collection, known as {that a} “fork in the road.” The Cardinals went on to win that yr’s World Series, main up to Tony La Russa saying his retirement and Albert Pujols leaving to sign up for the Los Angeles Angels. The Phillies, in the meantime, navigated a 10-year postseason drought. Their dynamic core — of Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, amongst others — elderly out, triggering a rebuild that did not endure fruit as briefly because the fan base was hoping.

Joe Girardi changed Gabe Kapler as the executive for the beginning of the 2020 season and Dave Dombrowski took over as the pinnacle of baseball operations a yr later, however the Phillies persevered to fade down the stretch and blow alternatives on the playoffs. The stakes have been additional ratcheted up heading into 2022, when the Phillies splurged a blended $179 million on Nick Castellanos and Schwarber, hanging them not off course to exceed baseball’s luxury-tax threshold.

But they started the season with a 22-29 report, already 12 1/2 video games again within the NL East, prompting Dombrowski to exchange Girardi with bench trainer Rob Thomson. Under Thomson’s calm demeanor, the Phillies all at once took off, successful 14 in their subsequent 16 video games. By the tip of August, they have been 15 video games above .500 and in company place within the NL Wild Card standings. They misplaced 10 in their final 14 in September, hanging them susceptible to shedding a place to the Milwaukee Brewers, however they received 3 in their first 4 in October to in any case clinch.

The Phillies overcame a managerial trade; main struggles from Castellanos, a chronic absence from the reigning NL MVP, Harper, who ignored about two months as a result of a thumb harm and used to be relegated to designated hitter for many of the yr as a result of a hard elbow; and the lack of their ace, Zack Wheeler, for many of September. But Schwarber led the league in domestic runs; J.T. Realmuto persevered to carry out like the sport’s absolute best catcher; Wheeler and Aaron Nola as soon as once more supplied them with a dynamic pairing on the best in their rotation; and Jose Alvarado and Zach Eflin emerged as a powerful back-end duo.

“It was a lot of challenges thrown at us over the course of the year, where I don’t know that I’ve ever been part of a team or something like that that has gone that many ways against us,” Schwarber mentioned sooner than the beginning of the playoffs. “I think the biggest thing that you can be proud of is you see how this whole group came together closer, because that was the only way that we were gonna be able to keep us in the hunt.”

In Friday’s Game 1, the Phillies were given a powerful efficiency from Wheeler and improbably strung in combination six ninth-inning runs — on 0 extra-base hits — to degree an exhilarating come-from-behind victory, shocking a sold-out Busch Stadium crowd. In Game 2, Nola close down St. Louis’ offense.

The Cardinals’ removal triggers the retirements of Pujols and Yadier Molina, expensive pals who turned into icons on this town. Pujols, who returned to the Cardinals for his age-42 seasons, all at once re-emerged as considered one of baseball’s maximum feared sluggers in the second one part, hanging in combination a .323/.388/.715 slash line and achieving the celebrated 700-home-run milestone. During that extend, Molina and Adam Wainwright, who has but to announce his retirement, set the report for many begins as batterymates with 325.

The Cardinals, below first-year supervisor Oliver Marmol, reached the playoffs via successful their 5th NL Central name in 10 years. They have been reinforced in large part via Pujols’ 2d part, together with MVP-caliber seasons via Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, a powerful protection, a dominant nearer in Ryan Helsley and a pitch-to-contact beginning rotation that used to be well-suited for a spacious Busch Stadium. Mozeliak known as 2022 “a magical year for the St. Louis Cardinals.” But it ended swiftly below Major League Baseball’s new, expanded postseason layout — in 18 innings.

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