San Diego Padres vs Philadelphia Phillies Game 3 of the NLCS: reactions and takeaways
Heading into Game 4 there are some key takeaways from the Phillies victory over the Padres in Game 3. Let’s take a look.
Things are getting interesting in the NLCS, with both teams showing that they have the tools to do damage to the other. Question is: who comes out on top in this one and what have we learned about how they will attempt to do so?
Padres vs Phillies: What’s the deal?
On Friday night, the Philadelphia Phillies retook the series lead in the NLCS against the San Diego Padres, with a 4-2 win. Interestingly, it was the first NLCS game to be played at Citizens Bank Park since October 23rd, 2010. Needless to say, the 45,279 fans who were packed into the stadium were more than happy to witness their team come out on top in what has to be considered an extremely entertaining game. Indeed, following six dismissals from closer Serantony Domínguez, the Phillies now have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series. Yet, the question what did we learn is still to be answered, so let’s do just that!
Kyle Schwarber isn’t playing around
Right off the bat - pun intended - it was clear that Kyle Schwarber wasn’t about waiting around to see how things panned out. The Phillies slugger put his team on the board in no time with a massive hit. This of course, follows on from the 488-foot shot that he launched over the wall in Game 1. We should mention, that with that hit, Schwarber is now only the second Phillies player in history to hit a leadoff homerun in the playoffs. If you’re wondering, ESPN’s stats indicate that Jimmy Rollins sits at No. 1 with three. At any rate, this is completely in keeping with Schwarber’s performance in the playoffs so far.
Pitchers Ranger Suárez & Joe Musgrove were about equal
Ranger Suárez’s performance would likely have pleased his team as he started the game in sensational fashion. Early strikeouts of Ha-seong Kim and Juan Soto set the tone for a performance that would last five innings with 68 pitches to show for it. The key here, was his return for the time he spent on the mound, which will undoubtedly mean he’ll be fresh should this series go the distance. Having only allowed two runs on two hits, Suárez was having a good night and even more so considering that one of those runs was unearned and due to defensive errors.
On the other side we had Joe Musgrove, who it must be said didn’t start off the night in the best fashion as evidenced by the above-mentioned leadoff megahit from Schwarber. On top of that, he then proceeded to walk two straight. Luckily, it didn’t take too long for the Padres pitcher to get stuck in and start to improve. Perhaps his best moment, was when he struck out the Phillies in the fifth inning and even got two groundouts at the beginning of the sixth. Yet, it was ultimately Musgrove who gave up two consecutive doubles to Nick Castellanos and Alec Bohm respectively, which in turn gave the Phillies the 4-2 lead. Though it’s clear that Suárez was a little better than Musgrove, credit must be given to both.
The Phillies have an exceptional bullpen
If there’s been one constant narrative in recent times, it’s that the Phillies bullpen isn’t great. Yet, it has to be said that definitely was not the case here. Aside from Suárez having a solid game, the truth is the Phillies also saw great work from Zach Eflin, who ground out a scoreless sixth regardless of the two hits he gave up. As manager Rob Thomson put it post game, the pitcher did his job in getting groundballs, but two of them happened to be hits.
Mention must also be made of José Alvarado who struck out two in his inning of work and then returned in the eighth. Again, Thomson’s decision paid off. The coach then relied on Seranthony Domínguez with six outs to go and he definitely obliged. Up to that point, the only Phillies pitcher to record a six-out playoff save, was Tug McGraw who did so back in the 1980 NLCS and then two times in the World Series of that same year. Domínguez started with Manny Machado to get off and running and then proceeded to take down the Padres in the ninth one-by-one, including a dramatic strikeout on Jurickson Profar - he didn’t like it at all - with a potential run on the plate. As they say, ‘that’s all folks.’
The Padres’ bullpen may benefit from rest in Game 4
Though they did lose the game, one interesting thing to keep in mind is the fact that Padres managed to keep the Phillies from scoring anymore runs in the latter stages of the contest. That’s important to note because they did so relying only on relievers Tim Hill and Pierce Johnson. That means, they didn’t have to turn to the likes of Nick Martinez, Luis García and, most importantly, Robert Suarez and closer Josh Hader. This is undoubtedly something that will make manager Bob Melvin happy as they prepare for an all-important Game 4.
Game 4 between the Phillies & Padres is going to be critical
Things are about to get interesting. If the Phillies win Game 4, they’ll take a 3-1 lead in the series and be just a step away from a World Series appearance. On the other hand, if the Padres get the W, the series will be tied and we’ll probably be looking at the very real possibility of this series going to seven games. Expected to start for San Diego is Mike Clevinger, who may not turn heads when compared with Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove, but he’s definitely capable of dominating proceedings as he did in his one encounter with the Phillies back in May. On that occasion, the five innings that he pitched for were scoreless. As for the Phillies themselves, it’s likely we’ll be seeing lefty, Bailey Falter who it should be said has not pitched since the regular season. Be sure to check in with us as we’ll be bringing all the updates and details.