ATLANTA — Nick Castellanos hasn’t been what the Phillies envisioned for most of the 2022 regular season when they signed him to a $100 million deal in the offseason. His time in Philadelphia was also not what he had hoped for.
But Tuesday, in the biggest game yet of the first season of their five-year entanglement?
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Castellanos. “Baseball is really, really fun right now.”
Many fans back in Philadelphia would agree.
Castellanos was the star of Tuesday’s 7-6 victory over the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. He had his 3 hits, 3 RBIs and 1 run scored. He contributed to a small-ball rally scoring runs in four of the first five innings, giving the Phillies a 7–1 lead before the real fun began.
And Castellanos delivered a momentum-changing play in the ninth inning, dove in to hook a stone-sinking William Contreras liner in right field. Had he missed it, the Braves would have hit the go-ahead with a runner on third base, and this was after Matt Olson’s three-run homer to center closed the gap to 7–6.
Instead, the grab was the second out, allowing Zac Eflin to short a ground ball off Travis Darneau to end it.
“I saw him swing and he hit it,” Castellanos said. “And it was just coming towards me, so I ran and caught it as best I could. ) put them in one, so it was huge to catch it and have no on base with two outs.”
“I feel the momentum right away,” said Rhys Hoskins. “Obviously they had it after the home run. Getting the next player is a big thing for Eph, but it’s just a big thing for us.”
Castellanos’ 3-hit, 3-RBI day was his first in a Phillies uniform. It led an offense that strung together five doubles, seven singles and two sacrifice bunts to defeat Max his Freed and his NL East his champions.
It started early. Going 0-for-16 against the Cardinals with two outs in the NL Wild Card Series, the Phillies strung together four straight two-out singles in the top of the first. JT Realmuto started with his two-strike base knock and Bryce Harper stole his one to center. Castellanos and Alec Bohm hit homers in opposite ways on a 0-2 count to make it 2-0.
Freed’s mistake opened the door for the third time and Real Muto reached. Harper’s sacrifice was followed by Castellanos doubling from the right wall, putting the runners on second and third. Baum sacked his fly to center and cashed in, and Jean his Segura singled to center to score Castellanos. Castellanos slipped by inches before Michael Harris II’s throw.
They continued to stack up, swinging 1-9 deep that eluded them for most of the season, and in the fourth they scored twice on an Edmund Sosa walk and a Hoskins double pass. Castellanos picked up his two-run single to reliever Jesse Chavez to make it 6–1. After Segura hit her leadoff double in the sixth, Sosa hit a sacrifice bunt and sack her fly to give her a 7–1 lead.
“I think[it’s]taking what’s there,” Castellanos said. “[Hitting coach]Kevin Long said he just passed the baton before the postseason started. You can have problems trying to hit, and I think the first inning, like the 9th inning (Game 1) in St. Louis, is a really good job of getting what the game gives you.”
They will need every attack. Starting pitcher Ranger Suarez struggled, but only went through 3.1 innings, largely thanks to five walks. Still he needed 86 pitches and he avoided his two sets of bases-loaded jams.
First, he involved Contreras in a double play. In the third, Darneau drove a fastball out of the zone. D’Arnaud was putting the Braves on the board in second by serving his 430 feet and driving in Suárez who provided an out to left center.
An outburst of emotion from the usually reserved Suarez as he left the mound after third.
Andrew Veratti quelled the two-on threat in the 4th inning. However, Blood Hand came in and took a flyout and a strikeout to avoid the extra damage.
This started a streak of 11 streaks that were retired by Phillies relief pitchers. Seranthony Dominguez took the sixth inning and he needed 18 pitches to beat the top six guys in the Braves order in the seventh. Jose Alvarado threw a clean eight.
Ephrin ran into trouble in the ninth, with Acuna Jr. (3 for 4) reaching an infield hit and Dansby Swanson, who struck out in the fourth, off the right wall. Olson then put a 414-foot pitch over the center fence.
But Efrin picked himself up and, with help from Castellanos, led the Phillies to the finish line and made the first attack of the series.
“Anytime we do something to help a winning team, we’re in a great place to help them reach the postseason they want to reach as a team,” Castellanos said. It’s a fresh start, a clean slate, and obviously these games are really intense.”
https://www.thereporteronline.com/2022/10/11/phillies-nick-castellanos-helps-put-braves-in-hole-at-plate-and-in-outfield/ Nick Castellanos finally has ‘fun’, Phillies pounce on Braves in NLDS – thereporteronline