The final installment of Phillies-Braves 2023 was a bit closer than the previous iterations, but it was also more of the same, as the Phillies slugged their way to a victory and a second straight trip to the National League Championship Series.
No. 1 Atlanta Braves at No. 4 Philadelphia Phillies, Game 4: Phillies 3, Braves 1 (Philadelphia wins 3-1)
The Phillies made life uncomfortable for Atlanta ace Spencer Strider from the jump, with two baserunners in each of the first three innings. In the middle innings, Nick Castellanos walloped two solo dingers sandwiched around one from Trea Turner, and that was all the scoring the Phillies needed.
Over the final innings, the Philly bullpen tamped down the vaunted Braves’ offense, and with the crowd as loud as ever at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia clinched its ticket to the next round.
Atlanta’s only run of the night came on an Austin Riley solo homer that put the Braves up 1-0 in the top of the fourth, but they lost the lead in the bottom half of the inning and never got it back.
Arguably the Braves’ best chance to take control of the game came in the top of the seventh, when three two-out walks had Craig Kimbrel in a bases-loaded jam. But this web gem from Philly center fielder Johan Rojas put a quick stop to that.
On the positive side, it was Castellanos’ second homer of the night, which made him the first player in MLB history with back-to-back multi-homer postseason games. After hitting two of the Phillies’ six dingers on Wednesday in Game 3, Castellanos notched the Phillies’ first and third runs with homers in Game 4, making the difference in the clinching victory.
On the negative side, the key moment might’ve been Bryce Harper’s possible elbow injury in the top of the eighth. With Harper catching the ball and Matt Olson running toward first base, Olson’s knee appeared to collide with Harper’s surgically repaired right elbow, and the Phillies’ star immediately jumped away and winced in apparent pain.
After making the inning-ending play, Harper briefly went to get checked out in the clubhouse, but he returned to the dugout and then to first base for the ninth inning. Afterward, he said it was only his funny bone, but the situation is likely worth monitoring in the coming days.
Castellanos. Enough said.
After the game:
Thursday saw the final act of some unusually juicy drama involving Harper, Braves shortstop Orlando Arcia and the national baseball media. As you might remember, Arcia taunted Harper in front of reporters after the slugger’s game-ending baserunning mistake in Game 2, reportedly saying, “ha-ha, atta-boy, Harper!” repeatedly.
That apparently got back to Harper, who stared down Arcia as he circled the bases on both of his homers in the Phillies’ blowout win in Game 3. The Braves later objected to reporters reporting what happened in front of them, with Travis d’Arnaud scolding the media and Arcia saying through an interpreter, “He wasn’t supposed to heat it.”
Ultimately, those complaints from the Braves just gave the Phillies more material with which to taunt them after ending their season. In T-shirt form.
Phillies players also reportedly sprayed Harper with beer while yelling, “Atta boy, Harper!”
The Phillies are moving on. They’ll face the Arizona Diamondbacks in NLCS Game 1, which begins at 8:07 p.m. ET Monday.
The Braves are finished for the year after winning 104 regular-season games.