Zack Wheeler’s gem gives Phillies NLCS win for first time since 2010

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It was the first National League Championship Series game the San Diego Padres have played since 1998, but fans will have to wait just a bit longer for their first win in the round.

The Philadelphia Phillies earned the 2-0 win in Game 1 of the NLCS – it was their first NLCS contest since 2010.

Zack Wheeler signed with the Phillies before the 2020 season for five years worth $118 million. Some questioned the deal, as Wheeler hadn’t even been named an All-Star once in his time with the New York Mets. But since Wheeler has taken the turnpike south, he’s been one of the game’s best.

In his third career postseason start – all of which have come in the last couple of weeks, he didn’t allow a hit through 4.1 innings of work, but that weak single in the fifth was the only hit he allowed in his seven scoreless innings. He also walked just one batter while whiffing eight.

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Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres in game one of the National League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 18, 2022 in San Diego, California.

Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres in game one of the National League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 18, 2022 in San Diego, California.
(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

His postseason ERA is now 1.40 (three earned runs in 19.1 innings). He has a 1.05 ERA in six starts (including the postseason) since coming off the IL, and Phillies starters have a 1.17 ERA this postseason.

Yu Darvish dominated early, striking out six of his first 12 batters, but in the top of the fourth, Bryce Harper tagged him for a solo homer, opening the scoring. In the sixth, Kyle Schwarber launched an upper-decker 488 feet off Darvish to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead. 

Quite frankly, it was just two mistakes that Darvish made, because his final line was awesome: he allowed just four hits and walked one while striking out seven, but the two homers combined with no help from his offense earned him the hard-luck loss.

Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts after hitting a home run during the sixth inning against the San Diego Padres in game one of the National League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 18, 2022 in San Diego, California.

Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts after hitting a home run during the sixth inning against the San Diego Padres in game one of the National League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 18, 2022 in San Diego, California.
(Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

NLCS TICKET PRICES BETWEEN PHILLIES, PADRES AT ALL-TIME HIGH

Seranthony Dominguez struck out two of the three batters he faced in relief, but it wasn’t that easy for Jose Alvarado, who came in for the save.

He got the first out, but walked Jurickson Profar to put Juan Soto to the plate as the tying run. On the first pitch, Soto grounded weakly to third base on what likely would have been a game-ending double play, but Alec Bohm threw it wide, putting the tying run on first and the winning run in Manny Machado at the plate. However, Machado flied out, and Josh Bell struck out swinging to end the game.

The Phillies are still riding their magic carpet. Had it not been for expanding the postseason to 12 teams, the Phillies would have been golfing two weeks ago. But they upset the Cardinals in two games, then upset the defending World Series Champion Atlanta Braves in four. Now, they are three wins away from their first World Series appearance since 2009.

Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts after hitting a home run during the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres in game one of the National League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 18, 2022 in San Diego, California.

Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts after hitting a home run during the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres in game one of the National League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 18, 2022 in San Diego, California.
(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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Aaron Nola will look to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead on Wednesday night and continue his scoreless postseason (his brother, Austin, is the Padres’ catcher), while Blake Snell will look to avoid a deep hole for San Diego.

Game 2’s first pitch is set for 4:35 p.m. ET at Petco Park in San Diego.

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