Philadelphia – On Thursday Night, Michael Harris II and the Atlanta Braves season came to a disappointing end as they fell 3-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Philadelphia’s series clenching victory on Thursday pushed their playoff home record to 26-11, the best in MLB playoff history according to the TBS broadcast.
Throughout the season we have raved at how historic the Atlanta offense was, but during this year’s NLDS it was Philadelphia who did the history making. In Game 1 the Phillies set a team record for most steals in a playoff game with five. In Game 3, the Phillies 6 homers were the most hit by any team in postseason history.
Right Fielder Nick Castellanos, who hit two homers of his own in their 10-2 Game 3 victory, added two more home runs in Game 4 to become the first player in MLB postseason history to hit two home runs in consecutive games.
As for the Braves, their pitching may have struggled but in the end the offense that tied the record for most home runs in MLB regular season history simply failed to do its part. Ronald Acuna Jr, Ozzie Albies, Marcell Ozuna and Matt Olsen combined for 0 home runs and just 1 extra base hit the entire series.
MLBbro Michael Harris II saw his postseason come to an end when he was pinch hit for by Travis d’Arnaud. Harris managed to get on base in Game 4 thanks to Trae Turner’s 2 base error but finished the 2023 postseason hitless and still has only one hit in his two postseason appearances.
HIs fellow MLBbro Vaughn Grissom was the only other MLBbro on the Braves NLDS roster, but unfortunately, he didn’t get an opportunity to contribute. Grissom struck out after being called to pinch hit with two out in the bottom of the 9th.
The Braves became the second national league team this postseason to be eliminated after winning 100 games, joining Dave Roberts and the LA Dodgers who were eliminated by Tommy Pham and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Atlanta won their 6th consecutive division crown this season, but for the second straight postseason Philadelphia is the final NL East team standing.
Atlanta opened up the scoring on a single to right by second baseman Ozzie Albies in the top of the 3rd inning that scored Ronald Acuna Jr. Unfortunately for the Braves, that 1-0 lead would be the last time they were ahead in this ballgame.
Philadelphia put up a six spot in the bottom half of the 3rd, sparked by a solo shot by right fielder Nick Castellanos and a three-run bomb by first baseman Bryce Harper. The Phillies duo would go on to homer again later in the ballgame to help push the Braves to the brink of elimination.
Atlanta now finds themselves in the exact same spot they were in last year, and in eerily similar fashion. Game 3 of the 2022 NLDS in the same building saw the Braves get beaten 9-1 while also surrendering a six-run 3rd.
Money Michael Harris Hitless In These Playoffs So Far
As for Harris, unfortunately his playoff slump at the plate continued. Harris went 0-for-4 on Wednesday and remains hitless (0-for-11) this postseason. In a time where the Braves are searching for any type of spark offensively, the usually reliable Harris has been unable to deliver his usual boost.
He’s far from the only high-production player on the Braves to fall short with the stick through the first three games of the series. Leading NL MVP candidate Ronald Acuna Jr. is batting .200 (2-for-10). Matt Olson is 3-for-12 with 0 homers after banging an MLB-high 54 bombs this season.
That kind of lagging production isn’t going to cut it against a Phillies team that is moving on all cylinders and has their best players performing at a high level.
Harris hit .293 with 18 homers and 57 RBI during the regular season with an .808 OPS after shaking off a rough start, so it goes without saying that he is more than capable of exploding over the next few games.
The question now is will it be too late?
After such a spectacular ending to Game 2, many expected Atlanta to carry that energy into Philadelphia but it simply did not happen. The Phillies have outscored their opponents 21-4 at home this postseason and are now set to face Spencer Strider for a second consecutive trip to the NLCS.
Atlanta — It took them 14 innings, but the real Michael Harris II and the Atlanta Braves have finally arrived to their matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series.
Despite finishing the season with the best record in the National League and one of the most prolific offenses in MLB history, the Braves bats were silent against Philadelphia in Game 1.
The best offense in baseball suddenly couldn’t buy a run, recording their first shutout loss at home since the middle of summer.
Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler was dominant to begin Game 2 Monday night, holding the Braves hitless through five innings before second baseman Ozzie Albies recorded a single in the 6th inning that sparked the Braves offense.
Atlanta Finally Gets Bats Going
Atlanta wasn’t finished after finally breaking through in the 6th, scoring again in the 7th and eventually taking the lead on a two-run homer by Ron Washington disciple Austin Riley.
As for Harris, he hasn’t been able to translate his regular season success to postseason glory just yet at the plate but still found a way to help his team secure the victory.
With one out in the ninth, Phillies right fielder Nick Castellanos sent a deep drive into right centerfield between Harris and Ronald Acuna Jr that sent Money Mike flying through the Atlanta sky and into the wall, to take away an extra base hit that would have potentially tied the game in the 9th.
The MLBbro and 2022 NL Rookie of the Year, fired the ball back into the infield, and third baseman Austin Riley made the perfect fundamental play, backing up the cutoff man Albies to double off Bryce Harper to end the game.
Harris is 0-7 at the plate so far this series, but that catch and throw will be talked about for years to come.
The play was a true example of how multifaceted he is and the game-changing talent he can bring to the game even when his bat is a bit cold.
Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Mookie Betts’ month-long pursuit of presumed National League MVP Ronald Acuna Jr. may not result in winning his first NL MVP award, but going forward there is potential for Mookie to accomplish something just as special on the game’s largest stage.
Mookie Makes History
On Saturday Mookie took home one of the most unique achievements in MLB history for a leadoff hitter.
His 105th RBI this season is the most ever from the top of the lineup, eclipsing Colorado Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon’s record of 104 RBI that was set in 2017.
“There’s been a lot of great leadoff hitters, and for him to be No.1 is pretty remarkable,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “It seems like every night we’re eclipsing milestones as individuals.”
The record comes on top of a season that has seen Mookie do it all for the Dodgers at the plate, especially since the All-Star break.
Over his last 30 games, Betts is slashing .360/.474/,622 with 7 homers, 21 RBI and 22 walks. His power has been on another level, despite coming up missing during this year’s Home Run Derby.
His 39 bro bombs mark the third time he has reached the 30+ milestone, and one more will put him at 40 for the first time ever.
Now on most teams, a bat like this would almost automatically be placed in the cleanup spot, but as we all know, the Dodgers haven’t been “normal” in quite some time. This team is a juggernaut with hitters everywhere, and Betts is the head of the snake.
The Dodgers have clinched a first-round bye in the postseason and look headed for another NLCS collision with the Braves. If Betts can manage to lead them past Atlanta, not only would it avenge his (assumed) MVP loss, it sets the stage for something much bigger.
World Series MVP In Two Leagues
Throughout the storied history of Major League Baseball, there has never been a player to win a World Series MVP in both leagues. His teammate Freddie Freeman could complicate his quest for this first. However, there is one thing that would give Betts the upper hand in this predicament.
After already establishing himself as one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, Betts’ ability to play the infield has helped the Dodgers through injuries while also adding new strategic options into Roberts’ bag.
Mookie flashed a lot of leather Sunday while playing second in their series finale against division rival San Francisco, making two fantastic diving stops on back-to-back plays to end the inning. Given the number of injuries to the Dodgers pitching staff, plays like this are exactly what LA will need to keep things close for their dynamic offense.
With a performance like that, history may not be too far out of reach.
This year’s National League Wild Card race has seen quite a few twists, and this latest turn of events puts several MLBbros in each other’s crosshairs for the final few weeks of the season.
The Chicago Cubs have lost control of the second WC spot that they once held by a three-game lead over Tommy Pham and the Arizona Diamondbacks. After going 2-8 in their last 10 ball games, Marcus Stroman and the Cubs now find themselves staring down Jazz Chisholm Jr and the streaking Miami Marlins for the final spot.
Hunter Greene and the Cincinnati Reds have managed to wiggle their way back into the picture as well and sit just a half game back of the Cubs and Marlins headed into Monday’s slate of games.
Let’s take a look at how we got to this point.
Stroman Looks to Stop Bleeding
Marcus Stroman was a key piece in the Cubs rotation, going 10-8 with a 3.85 ERA in 23 starts this season for the North Siders before he went down with inflammation in his right hip along with a rib cartilage fracture.
Stroman garnered early Cy Young consideration, but the injuries would cause his performance to drop off before he went to the IL. Now, with his team looking for something to spark one final push for the stretch run, Stroman is ready to do whatever it takes to help his team win.
And yes, that includes going to the Pen.
“Marcus has a proven track record, and getting him back was an important step,” said Cubs manager David Ross. “He’s on a journey to try and build back up, but right now, he’ll help us out in the bullpen. Then we’ll read and react and see how everything goes these last couple weeks.”
His first outing out of the bullpen was a solid one, going two scoreless in a tough loss against Tommy Pham and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Jazz Heats Up Little Havana
Meanwhile down in Miami, Chisholm and the Marlins have been playing inspired baseball of late. MIami has won six of their last 10 games, including a sweep of Michael Harris II and the Atlanta Braves over the weekend.
Miami took advantage of Ronald Acuna Jr being out with calf tightness the final two games, and Jazz made sure of it. Chisholm became the first player in the clubs 32-year history to hit a grand slam in consecutive games, hitting one in the 8th inning of game two and then again in the third inning of game three.
“Our team is here to fight,” Chisholm said. “I don’t care about the team we go up against because I know my team is going to go out there and battle every single pitch. I felt every pitch today, and everybody was ready.”
Over his last 15 games has hit .286 with four homers, 12 RBI and a .915 OPS. They have a three-game set with Minnesota that on paper stands to be their toughest test the rest of the season, although the inconsistent Mets will have an opportunity to play spoiler to their division rival.
Greene and the Reds Lurking
The media frenzy around rookie Elly De La Cruz may have quieted, but this young ball club is still looking to make waves come postseason. Now Cincy may be 5-5 in their last 10 ball games, but of all the teams vying for the final WC spot they have the easiest remaining schedule.
Can Hunter Greene and Cincy finally give those fans a glimpse of a bright future after years of futility? The next two weeks will tell us everything we need to know.