newsformer washington nationals stars bryce harper juan soto meet up in nlcs

Former Washington Nationals stars Bryce Harper, Juan Soto meet up in NLCS

Scott Ratcliffe
(© ccestep8 –

Philadelphia’s Cinderella run continued into the National League Championship Series on Tuesday, as the sixth-seeded Phillies knocked off the Padres in Game 1 in San Diego, 2-0.

All-Star slugger Bryce Harper launched a solo shot off of Padres starter Yu Darvish in the fourth inning — his third home run in as many postseason games — to get Philly on the board and quiet the crowd of nearly 45,000.

“I really enjoy coming to ballparks that are hostile,” said Harper. “I don’t know, I just really enjoy it.”

Left fielder Kyle Schwarber followed that up with a towering, upper-deck, 488-yard blast on the first pitch of the sixth that wowed Harper and the rest of his teammates.

“I’ve never seen a ball go up in that section in Petco Park,” Harper said of Schwarber’s long-distance insurance run. “Just very impressive.”

That was all the Phillies needed to steal a win Tuesday, as the Padres gave up just one other hit all day.

“I thought Darvish was really good and we couldn’t get much going, but Harper, three straight games with a home run, and Schwarber’s game was just completely flush,” said Phillies skipper Rob Thompson.

Philadelphia starter Zack Wheeler, who at one point sat down 12 batters in a row, was in a zone Tuesday. He tossed 7 strong innings, striking out 8, walking 1, and most importantly giving up just a single hit to Wil Myers in the fifth.

“That’s probably as good a pitching performance we’ve seen all year, is my guess,” admitted San Diego manager Bob Melvin.

The Phillies’ bullpen slammed the door, as Seranthony Dominguez struck out two in a scoreless eighth inning before Jose Alvarado held on in the ninth for the save.

With two on and one out, Alvarado was able to get Padres third baseman Manny Machado to pop one up before fanning Josh Bell for the game’s final out.

Schwarber, who entered Tuesday’s game in the midst of a 1-for-20 playoff slump at the plate, reminded everyone why he was the NL’s regular-season home run champ with 46 dingers.

San Diego left-hander Blake Snell (8-10, 3.38 ERA in the regular season; 1-0, 3.12 in the postseason) will take the mound today in Game 2 (4:35 p.m. ET, FOX), as he’ll be going up against Philadelphia right-hander Aaron Nola (11-13, 3.25 ERA regular season; 2-0, 0.00 ERA in playoffs).

For what it’s worth, the Phillies claimed the regular-season series against San Diego, 4-3, outscoring the Padres 21-15 in the seven games. Home-field advantage wasn’t much of a factor, as Philadelphia took three out of four out West, while the Padres won two of the three games played in the ‘City of Brotherly Love.’

After qualifying for the playoffs in the final days of the regular season, Philadelphia — making its first postseason appearance in 11 years — upset Central Division champion St. Louis in the Wild Card round, taking both games of the best-of-three series on the road.

That momentum spilled into Atlanta for Game 1 of the NLDS last week, as the Phillies held on for a 7-6 win at Truist Park over the defending World Series champs. The No. 2 seed Braves knotted things up the next night, but Philadelphia took the following two games over the weekend in front of an ecstatic home crowd to punch their ticket to the NLCS for the first time since 2008.

“We have a lot of baseball to be played, and we have a really good team standing in the way of [winning the NLCS], we just have to take care of tomorrow,” Philadelphia’s Nick Castellanos said after Tuesday’s win.

The fifth-seeded Padres, who are playing in their first NLCS since 1998, also fought their way out of the Wild Card round, winning 6-0 in a Game 3, win-or-go-home showdown in New York against the Mets.

From there, it was onto the Divisional round, where San Diego stunned the top-seeded Dodgers in four games, thanks to a magical, five-run seventh inning in Game 4 Saturday that erased a 3-0 deficit and led to a 5-3 victory.

Machado hopes the Padres’ bats can heat up again this afternoon, as he, fellow power hitter Juan Soto, Bell and Jake Cronenworth — San Diego’s No. 2-through-5 batters in the lineup — combined to go 0-for-14 in Game 1 (the rest of the team was just 1-for-15).

“We’ll be ready. We’re going to go out there and compete, just go out there and keep grinding,” said Machado.

The Padres are a slight favorite (-125) this afternoon, and must hold serve in front of their home fans to avoid heading back to Philly this weekend with a 2-0 deficit in tow.

NLCS Schedule/Results

Game 1 — Philadelphia 2, San Diego 0. PHI leads series, 1-0.

Game 2 — Wednesday at San Diego, 4:35 p.m. (FOX)

Game 3 — Friday at Philadelphia, 7:37 p.m. (FS1)

Game 4 — Saturday at Philadelphia, 7:45 p.m. (FOX)

Game 5* — Sunday at Philadelphia, 2:37 p.m. (FS1)

Game 6* — Monday at San Diego, 8:03 p.m. (FS1)

Game 7* — Tuesday at San Diego, 8:03 p.m. (FOX)

* — if necessary

Scott Ratcliffe

Scott Ratcliffe

Scott Ratcliffe has worked as a freelance writer for several publications over the past decade-plus, with a concentration on local and college sports. He is also a writer and editor for his father’s website,, dedicated to the coverage of University of Virginia athletics.