Pa Disha Tosar
Posted by FOX Sports MLB

There’s just something about the playoffs and a good, old-fashioned pitchers’ duel. Hits are rare, strikeouts are plentiful, and every starter tries not to be the person who blinks first.

Brave right-handed Kyle Wright and Phyllis right-handed Zack Wheeler were closed and doing business early Wednesday despite a three-hour rain delay Game 2 in Atlanta. If anything, the anticipation only seemed to fuel the rookies in each of their second appearances in the 2022 MLB Playoffs.

Wheeler walked eight in the first inning and Wright walked 10 in the opening frame. Through the first nine innings of Game 2, Wheeler had a slim lead as the Braves went up by nine and fell. But it didn’t matter much as both pitchers laid goose eggs through the first five innings.

There wasn’t much movement on the base paths all night — that is, until Atlanta’s game-changing offensive effort in the sixth inning. The Braves took the lead and never looked back, tying the NLDS at one win apiece with their 3-0 win over the Phillies on Wednesday at Truist Park.

“We’ve got to keep fighting” — Matt Olson after Braves win.

Matt Olson spoke with Ken Rosenthal after the Atlanta Braves’ 3-0 win that tied the NLDS with the Philadelphia Phillies at 1-1.

Something that suited the Braves

Happy with the homer, the Braves took a break from their usual plan of attack and instead rallied for three runs, keeping it simple: They put the ball in play. Then it was their defense that sealed the victory.

Atlanta broke the streak by sending eight men to the plate against Wheeler in the sixth. With two outputs, Ronald Acuña Jr. was hit on the right arm/elbow by a 97 mph sinker, making it only Atlanta’s second hit of the night. Dansby Swanson followed by a walk – Wheeler’s only free pass of the game – earlier Matt Olson struck the first blow. Olson hit an RBI single behind the first baseman Rhys Hoskinsand the Braves finally broke through.

After Olson, Austin Riley put a dribbler on the play that Wheeler cornered two feet in front of home plate. But by the time he got there, it was too late. Swanson scored and Riley reached first safely. Travis d’Arnaud then joined the hit crew with an RBI single up the middle to cap Atlanta’s three-run rally.

Braves score three runs in sixth inning

The Atlanta Braves scored three runs in the sixth on two-out hits by Matt Olson, Austin Riley and Travis d’Arnaud to beat the Phillies 3-0.

The Braves’ defense came into play as did their offensive explosion. Swanson and Riley showed their skin in the sixth and eighth innings, respectively. Swanson’s catch to the basket, which traveled nearly 80 feet with his back to the plate, capped six scoreless innings for Wright.

Dansby Swenson makes a diving catch against the Phillies

Dansby Swenson of the Atlanta Braves made an unbelievable catch against the Phillies in the top of the sixth inning.

In the eighth, Riley took a chance by dropping the tarp on the third-base side, making a terrific catch on a popup in foul territory. The play helped the streak Jean Segura at first base and stifled any Philly momentum.

Austin Riley makes an incredible grab in foul territory

Austin Riley of the Atlanta Braves made an incredible catch to preserve a 3-0 lead against the Phillies.

What went wrong for Phyllis

Wheeler came off his first career postseason start on Wednesday, going 6⅓ scoreless innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday at Busch Stadium. At Truist Park, the Smyrna, Ga., native returned to his hometown, leading a team with Game Plan 2 that included a quick exit.

Wheeler has faced the Braves 24 times in his eight-year career, his second-most starts against any team behind Citizens (28). His major league debut came against the Braves at old Turner Field, and the Georgia State high school from which he was drafted is about a 30-minute drive from Truist Park. Wheeler grew up watching the Braves with his father, who attended the game every night. To say Wheeler is familiar with the Atlanta Braves is an understatement.

On Wednesday, that familiarity hurt him. He needed just 50 pitches to get through five scoreless innings, but just when it looked like he would end his outing for good, the Braves caught up with him in a blistering sixth. Wheeler faced the Braves’ order for the third time as things went downhill.

The Braves have made it loud and clear that if a starting pitcher sticks around long enough to face them a third time, they will make him pay. It was a disappointing way for Wheeler to end his start, especially after five strong scoreless innings. He finished his outing at 79 innings.

The key moment of the game

Acuña was in significant pain after Wheeler’s 97 mph fastball nailed him near his right forearm and elbow in the sixth inning. The Braves’ star outfielder lay on the ground for several minutes while a trainer checked on him. A short time later, he took first base and stayed in the game, but his right arm was tightly wrapped across his body and appeared limp as he ran around the bases.

He remained in right field for the rest of the game. But in his first at-bat after a hit-by-pitch, Acuña quickly struck out five innings in a no-nonsense performance.

Acuña potentially getting drilled and injured is the last thing the Braves need after a NLDS tie. How he recovers from that burning moment will be something to watch going forward.

What happens next

On Friday, postseason baseball will return to Citizens Bank Park for the first time since the 2011 ALDS. The atmosphere is expected to be raucous with fans waiting more than a decade for the Phillies to make a playoff home run. Moreover, the Phillies can win the series at home if they win the next two games.

Phyllis, right-handed Aaron Nola will face Atlanta’s starter to be announced at Game 3though it’s likely the Braves will go with the right-hander Charlie Morton. The first submission is scheduled for 4:37 PM on FS1.

Disha Tosar is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the Mets for the New York Daily News. Follow her on Twitter at @Disha Tosar.

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