In Game 1 of the NLCS, Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber each hit a home run, and Zack Wheeler struck out eight Padres.

In Game 1 of the 2022 National League Championship Series, the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the San Diego Padres 2-0 to take the lead. Zack Wheeler, the Phillies’ co-ace, dominated with seven scoreless innings to give the bullpen a much-needed rest. In terms of offence, Kyle Schwarber hit one of the longest home runs in recent postseason history, and Bryce Harper hit a home run for the third game in a row.

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With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth, the Padres added some intrigue. Following a throwing error attributed to Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm, Juan Soto reached on a fielder’s choice after Jurickson Profar had already taken a step forward. Alvarado recovered, though, to retire Josh Bell on a strikeout and Manny Machado on a flyout to end the game.

The Phillies are now up 1-0 in the best-of-seven series that will decide who will face the winner of the New York Yankees-Houston Astros ALCS in the World Series.

Here are some lessons learned from Game 1.

Wheeler continued to dominate over 83 pitches.

With nine strikeouts and two walks in 12 1/3 innings, Wheeler has a 2.19 ERA through his first two postseason starts. Wheeler, who offers the Phillies a pair of aces with Game 2 starting Aaron Nola, was even better on Tuesday night against the Padres: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 8 SO, and 1 BB. Wil Myers’ one-out single in the fifth inning was the only hit he gave up, and he threw 58 of his 83 pitches for strikes.

Wheeler used his fastball 52 percent more often than usual against the Padres in Game 1 compared to 42.9 percent of the time during the regular season, likely as a result of scouting. In Game 1, the fastball was used more frequently, primarily at the expense of the slider. 42 percent of Wheeler’s pitches outside the strike zone caused the Padres’ hitters to swing, which is a significant percentage. Wheeler’s outstanding performance reduced his postseason ERA through three starts to 1.40. On a full day of recuperation, he will be ready to play again in Game 5 on Sunday.

Yu Darvish, the Padres’ ace and Wheeler’s opponent, pitched well over 7 innings with 3 hits, 2 runs, 7 strikeouts, and 1 walk. Darvish pitched well enough to win most of the time aside from the two home runs shown below, but the San Diego batters were unable to back him. Darvish threw six different pitches, as is customary of him, and generally had command of them all. Darvish was given the loss, but the offence of the Padres is really to blame.

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Harper remained warm.

The Phillies’ biggest star is Bryce Harper, and he has performed like such throughout the postseason. Harper hit.286/.375/.714 with one home run in the two games of the Wild Card Series, and he then went on to hit.500/.529/1.063 with two home runs in the four-game NLDS upset of the Braves. He had a postseason batting line of.435/.480/.957 going into Game 1 against the Padres. Then, in the opening frame of the NLCS, he performed the following at Darvish’s expense:

Harper did a great job of retaining the high and outside fastball and moving to the other field. Although it only travelled 368 feet, it wasn’t the most impressive bomb of his career, but it still counts on the scoreboard. Harper became the first Phillie since Gary Matthews in the 1983 NLCS to homer in three straight postseason games as a result.

Harper is making the most of his first playoff appearance since the 2017 season in the 2022 postseason.

With 46 home runs during the regular season, Schwarber led the National League, but up until the aforementioned, he had been having trouble. In the 2022 postseason, Schwarber had a line of.050/.222/.050 with zero home runs in six games going into Game 1 of the NLCS. There really isn’t much of a better strategy to get out of mini-slumps.

The Phillies are in a decent situation (most of the time).

The club that wins Game 1 goes on to win that series 64.3 percent of the time in MLB’s best-of-seven playoff series. The probability of a team winning the series after winning Game 1 on the road, as the Phillies did, is 59.0 percent. Good news for Philadelphia. Here’s some information for the Padres: The club that wins Game 1 on the road, in this case the Phillies, only wins Game 2 37.2 percent of the time.

Speaking of Game 2, it will take place on Wednesday in San Diego and the opening pitch is set for 4:35 p.m. ET. Blake Snell, a left-handed pitcher for the Padres, will face Nola for the Phillies.

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