Photo Credits: Bryce Harper photo by Ian D’Andrea via Flickr, scaled
Philadelphia, PA: In a season where Phillies star Bryce Harper missed 52 games, the Fightins’ battled all season to try and secure a playoff berth. It took them 160 games, but the Phillies did it. The Fightins are playing October baseball for the first time in eleven years.
In the new MLB playoff format, three teams are now able to clinch wild card spots in each division. With an 87–75 record, the Phillies secured the third and final spot. This meant that the Phillies would travel to St. Louis to take on NL Central division champions, the St. Louis Cardinals. Over the course of the 2022 season, the teams played each other seven times, with the Phillies holding the edge in the series with a record of 4–3.
In game one, the Fightins went down early when a pinch-hit home run put the Cardinals up by two in the seventh. Down to their last three outs in the top of the ninth, the Phillies clawed their way back and loaded the bases. Alec Bohm got hit by a pitch to score the first run, and then it was Jean Segura with a base hit into right field to score two, putting the Phillies up 3–2. The Phillies added three more, bringing the score to 6–2. The Cardinals put up one run in the final frame, but it wasn’t enough. With the win, the Phillies just needed one more win to clinch the series. The next day it was an Aaron Nola masterclass on the mound. The right-hander pitched six and two-thirds innings and accumulated six strikeouts while giving up no runs. The offense gave Nola an early lead, with Harper hitting a towering home run into right field in the second for a 1–0 lead. They added one more run in the fifth. A 2–0 lead was all the Phillies pitching staff needed in order to shut the door on the Cardinals and win the series. For the first time in 11 years, there will be playoff baseball at Citizens Bank.
In the divisional round, the Phillies take on division rival and reigning World Series Champions, the Atlanta Braves. The teams played each other 19 times throughout the 2022 season, and Atlanta won the series by a record of 11–8. Ranger Suarez will be on the mound for the Fightins in Game One. Suarez had a 10–7 record with a 3.65 earned run average this season. Wheeler will be able to take the mound in Game Two with the regular amount of rest, and Nola will be on the bump in game three with an extra day of rest. The series will begin on Tuesday in Atlanta, where games one and two will be played, with game three coming home to Philadelphia on Friday.
James Middleton is a fourth-year communication studies major. JM928768@wcupa.edu