Zack Wheeler had an impressive performance, striking out eight batters, as the Philadelphia Phillies started their postseason push with a 4-1 win over the Miami Marlins in the NL Wild Card Series opener on Tuesday night. José Alvarado made a crucial strikeout to preserve the lead, and Nick Castellanos provided a key double, putting the Phillies in a strong position to advance to the NL Division Series against Atlanta with one more victory.
Castellanos also added an RBI double in the eighth inning, scoring Bryce Harper, who ignored a stop sign and knocked off his helmet during his run. Craig Kimbrel closed the game with a scoreless ninth inning, securing the win for the Phillies.
With signs from the fans saying “Un-phinished Business,” the Phillies, who fell short of their World Series title goal last season, started this postseason with a determined mindset. The team’s manager, Rob Thomson, believes this year’s team is even better than last year’s.
Led by star shortstop Trea Turner, the Phillies are once again playing big games in October. Wheeler, one of the team’s top free-agent signings, was in peak form throughout the game. He consistently threw fastballs in the 97-99 mph range, striking out 212 batters this season.
Wheeler’s dominant performance included a great slider and a filthy sinker. He is grateful for another chance at the postseason after being lifted with a 1-0 lead in Game 6 of the World Series last year, which the Phillies eventually lost to the Houston Astros.
Despite a threatening moment from the Marlins in the seventh inning, Alvarado stepped up and struck out Yuli Gurriel, ending the Marlins’ scoring opportunity. Wheeler threw only 46 pitches through four innings, while Marlins starter Jesús Luzardo struggled through 90 pitches.
The Phillies’ offense was impressive, with every starter recording at least one hit. Johan Rojas opened the scoring with a single in the third inning, followed by an RBI double from Alec Bohm. Bryson Stott and Cristian Pache also contributed with RBIs later in the game.
Before the game, injured slugger Rhys Hoskins threw the ceremonial first pitch, creating an emotional moment for both him and the Phillies fans. This could potentially be Hoskins’ last appearance at Citizens Bank Park, as he hopes to return to the team if they make it to the World Series.
Former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who led the team to the 2008 World Series title, watched the game from a hospital room. He recently suffered a stroke but continues to support the team.
In the next game, the Marlins will send LHP Braxton Garrett to the mound to face Phillies RHP Aaron Nola. Garrett has faced the Phillies twice this season, giving up three runs in both starts. Nola had a successful postseason last year and will look to continue his strong performances.