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Padres vs. Phillies score: Kyle Schwarber, Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler star in NLCS Game 1 victory

The Philadelphia Phillies struck first in the 2022 National League Championship Series with a 2-0 win over the San Diego Padres in Game 1. Phillies co-ace Zack Wheeler dominated with seven shutout innings to give the Philly bullpen a much-needed light night of work. On offense, Bryce Harper homered for a third straight game, and Kyle Schwarber blasted one of the longest home runs in recent postseason history.

The Padres made things interesting against reliever José Alvarado with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Jurickson Profar walked, and then Juan Soto reached on a fielder’s choice thanks to a throwing error charged to Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm. However, Alvarado recouped to retire Manny Machado on a fly-out and Josh Bell on a strikeout to end the game.

The Phillies now hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that will determine who advances to the World Series to face the winner of the New York Yankees-Houston Astros ALCS.

Now for some takeaways from Game 1.

Wheeler was dominant again in 83-pitch outing

Wheeler through his first two starts of this postseason had a 2.19 ERA with nine strikeouts and two walks in 12 1/3 innings. Wheeler, who along with Game 2 starter Aaron Nola gives the Phillies a duo of aces, was even better against the Padres on Tuesday night: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 8 SO, 1 BB. He didn’t allow a hit until Wil Myers’ one-out single in the fifth, and he spotted 58 of his 83 pitches for strikes.

Wheeler did not come back for the eighth inning after his velocity dipped in the seventh.

In what was probably a scouting-driven decision, Wheeler leaned more on his fastball in Game 1 than he typically does – 52 percent of the time against the Padres versus 42.9 percent usage during the regular season. Mostly, that increased fastball usage came at the expense of the slider in Game 1. Wheeler got the Padres’ lineup to swing at 42 percent of his pitches outside the zone, which is a lofty figure. The stellar effort lowered Wheeler’s ERA during this postseason to 1.40 through three starts. He’ll be lined up to go again on full rest in Sunday’s Game 5.

As for Wheeler’s counterpart, Pads ace Yu Darvish, he pitched quite well – 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 7 SO, 1 BB. Other than allowing the two home runs detailed below, Darvish pitched well enough to win most of the time, but the San Diego bats weren’t able to give him any support. As is typically the case with Darvish, he three six different pitches and generally commanded all of them. Darvish got the loss, but in reality that loss is on the Padres’ offense.

Harper stayed hot

Bryce Harper is the Phillies’ biggest star, and he’s played like it this postseason. In the two games of the Wild Card Series, Harper slashed .286 / .375 / .714 with one home run, and he followed that up by batting .500 / .529 / 1.063 with two homers in the four-game upset of the Braves in the NLDS. So he came into Game 1 against the Padres with a line of .435 / .480 / .957 in the 2022 postseason. Then in the fourth inning of the NLCS opener, he did this at expense of Darvish:

That’s an excellent job by Harper of staying with the high-and-outside fastball and going to the opposite field. It wasn’t the most jaw-dropping blast of his career di lui – it traveled just 368 feet – but it certainly counts on the scoreboard. That also made Harper the first Phillie to homer in three straight postseason games since Gary Matthews in the 1983 NLCS.

The 2022 postseason marks Harper’s first playoff appearance since 2017, but he’s certainly making the most of it so far.

Schwarber utterly destroyed at pitch

We should just skip the throat-clearing and roll tape on this one:

That act of war perpetrated against a Darvish cutter left the bat at 119.7 mph, and at 488 feet it was the longest recorded home run in the history of Petco Park. Blackberries:

Given all that, another angle on things is the least we can do:

Schwarber during the regular season led the NL with 46 home runs, but until the above he’d been struggling during the current postseason. Schwarber came into NLCS Game 1 with a line of .050 / .222 / .050 for the 2022 playoffs with zero home runs in six games. As breaking out of mini-slumps goes, there’s not much of a better way to do it.

The Phillies are (mostly) in a good spot

In the history of best-of-seven playoff series in MLB, the team that wins Game 1 goes on to win that series 64.3 percent of the time. Teams that win Game 1 on the road, as the Phillies did, go on to win the series in question 59.0 percent of the time. That’s good news for Philly. Now here’s some for the Padres: the team that wins Game 1 on the road – again, the Phillies in this instance – goes on to win Game 2 just 37.2 percent of the time.

Speaking of Game 2, it’s scheduled for Wednesday back in San Diego with first pitch at 4:35 pm ET. Nola goes for the Phillies against lefty Blake Snell for the Padres.

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