More Sports:

October 04, 2023

Instant observations: Phillies blow out the Marlins to clinch NL Wild Card Series, Braves up next

Aaron Nola was spectacular and Bryson Stott sent CBP into a frenzy with a grand slam to send the Phillies on to the NLDS.

Philly was ready for a party, and they got it. 

Aaron Nola put in a spectacular outing, the bats forced the Marlins to reach into the bullpen early, and Bryson Stott blew the figurative roof off the place with a sixth-inning grand slam that all but iced this series. 

The Phillies beat the Miami Marlins, 7-1, to take the NL Wild Card Series 2-0. 

Another party is on, the next step on the road back to the World Series is taken, and now the Atlanta Braves await on-deck in the NLDS. 

But for now, it's only about the celebration.

Here are the highlights from Game 2 Wednesday night:

The Good

Aaron Nola needed a great outing on Wednesday, for the sake of closing out the series and for the trajectory of the rest of this postseason run – however far it ultimately goes. His changeup, knuckle curve, and sinker, he had them all going early, but at this point, everyone is well aware that strong starts haven't been Nola's problem, it's been sustaining them, especially once pressure cracks down once runners get on base. 

And that pressure showed up in the third. Marlins shortstop Jon Berti drove a fly ball into left enter that carried deep. Cristian Pache had a track on it, but as he stretched out his glove to try and make the catch, it instead bounced right off the top of it. Berti was one second with one out.

The crowd was sure to stay behind Nola the entire way, but the thought of "here we go again," wasn't entirely ignorable.

He got out of it though.

Falling into a 3-2 count against Jacob Stallings made it dicey, but as Nola was about to deliver the next pitch, Berti got himself caught in no man's land trying to steal third. Two down. 

Then Nola got Stallings to hit a soft bouncer over to third that Alec Bohm handled without issue. Three down and out of the third. A huge escape for Nola, and the Phillies' bats were about to reward him for it. 

• Miami lefty Braxton Garrett was able to match Nola beat for beat through the first two frames, but the Phillies found a breakthrough in the third. It started with Pache's walk at the top, then came together when Kyle Schwarber sent a one-out missile down the right-field line and into the corner. Pache went home all the way from first, Schwarber pulled up at second for the double, and the Phillies were on the board 1-0 with the ballpark on its feet.

Trea Turner wasn't about to leave things there. 

In the next at-bat, Turner sent an 0-2 laser right back to Garrett, causing the ball to take a major bounce off the pitcher's hand and into right field, which allowed Schwarber to score from second. 2-0, Phils with the ballpark still thunderous, and Garrett needing to be checked by a trainer.

He finished out the inning but didn't come back out for the fourth. David Robertson took over for the Marlins, and...

• J.T. Realmuto. BOOM. 3-0, Phils. 

• Nola wasn't in the clear yet coming back out for the fifth. He got Jazz Chisholm looking on four pitches for the first out but then gave up a single to Jake Burger and a walk to Bryan De La Cruz to put runners at first and second.

But he got out of it – again. 

Jesús Sánchez, on the 0-2 knuckle curve, went for it and could only muster a grounder to short, which Turner easily flipped into a double play to end the frame. 

Nola was still going strong, and more importantly, efficient. He was through five and only 61 pitches in. He could keep going and did – finishing at 7.0 scoreless innings pitched with only three hits and a walk allowed. 

He needed a showing like that, and so did the Phillies.

• The Marlins were in trouble as soon as they had to reach into the bullpen so early. 

Alec Bohm doubled to start the bottom of the sixth to chase Robertson out, and after Andrew Nardi took over for Miami, Bryce Harper drew a walk and Nick Castellanos reached first on a fielding error by Burger at third to load the bases. 

And since this is October in South Philadelphia, you know what comes next...

Bryson Stott. Grand slam. The party was on. 

• Orion Kerkering is filthy. 

The bad

• The Phillies are moving on. They got two quality outings from Nola and Zack Wheeler in which the Marlins scored a combined one run, and against two strong left-handers, the bats were able to find a way to get to both of them. 

The Braves are going to be a challenge, for sure, in the NLDS. But for now, the Phillies just took the next step on the way back to the World Series. This is a time to celebrate, not nitpick. 

And the Phils, yeah, they know how to celebrate.

The perfect

• Jamie Moyer threw out the first pitch to Garrett Stubbs while wearing the pinstripe overalls. What a legend.

• It's been said time and time again, but only because it continually rings true: Citizens Bank Park is the best crowd in baseball. 

They're loud, they're creative, and from the first pitch to the final out, they're engaged. 

They were behind Nola the entire night, could probably be heard miles up Broad after Stott's grand slam – just like last year – and for every Marlins mound visit, were sure to raise the noise level so high to almost guarantee that they couldn't hear a thing out of any of those meetings. 

That red sea of 45,000-plus is an absolute game-changer in October, making for nowhere else to be.

Follow Nick on Twitter: @itssnick

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports