PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bryson Stott swung the bat, then stared almost in a daze as the ball plopped 412 feet away into the right-field seats. Stott swears he has almost no memory of the second grand slam in Philadelphia Phillies postseason history.
His light trot, then — slam! — the thud of his bat as the lumber spiked the turf, well, Stott doesn’t remember that, either. This playoff highlight was a blur. He yelled something at his Phillies teammates, who had already turned the dugout into a jubilant mosh pit.
What did he say? Who knows? Stott couldn’t hear himself or anyone else near him — the slam set off pandemonium inside another packed Phillies ballpark.
“I was running around the bases in kind of a blackout,” Stott said. “I don’t know, I have to go back and watch it.”
Stott’s grand slam punctuated a postseason sweep and Aaron Nola tossed seven shutout innings in a performance worthy of a playoff ace that led to a 7-1 win over the Miami Marlins in Game 2 of their NL Wild Card Series on Wednesday night.
“We know we’re a really good team and we’ve just got to continue to do that,” slugger Bryce Harper said inside a rowdy, boozy clubhouse.
After making quick work of the surprising Marlins, it’s time for an anticipated rematch.
J.T. Realmuto also homered as the Phillies advanced to another best-of-five Division Series against Ronald Acuña Jr., Matt Olson and the Braves. Game 1 is Saturday in Atlanta. The Phillies did not announce a scheduled starter.
The NL champion Phillies finished third last season in the NL East at 87-75, a full 14 games behind the 101-win Braves, only to beat them in four games in the NLDS. The Braves were even better this season with a major league-best 104 wins and a sixth straight NL East crown — clinched last month in Philadelphia — while the Phillies again earned a wild card with 90 wins.
“It’s going to be an electric series and we can’t wait,” Harper said.
More postseason thrills are surely ahead.
Stott provided one Wednesday when he turned on reliever Andrew Nardi’s first-pitch fastball in the sixth and launched it into the right-field seats for a 7-0 lead. He slammed his bat as he ran down the first-base line, and the Stott Shot sent Phillies fans into a delirious frenzy with the countdown to a clinch officially on.
Nola followed Game 1 starter Zack Wheeler’s excellent effort with one of his own, and had 46,000 fans on their feet chanting “Let’s Go, Nola!” when he needed a lift.
“He went through a lot this year because he struggled at times and there were the home runs and the big innings and things like that, but he just kept grinding and he kept fighting, kept working,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “Finally, he found some stuff at the end of the year, and he’s been lights out.”
The one knock on Nola, eligible for free agency after the World Series, is his trouble with shutdown innings. After Realmuto went deep to make it 3-0 in the fourth, Nola ran into a jam in the fifth. He put runners on first and second with one out before he got Jesús Sánchez to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Nola picked — more than pitched — his way out of Miami’s only other serious threat.
The Marlins briefly caught a break in the third when Jon Berti’s deep drive into the left-center gap knocked off left fielder Cristian Pache’s glove for a one-out double. Berti then inexplicably tried to steal third and was busted by Nola as the righty went into his delivery. Nola noticed Berti taking off and, instead of throwing a pitch, simply stepped toward third and threw him out.
“I feel like there was a little momentum shift,” Nola said. “For a pitcher, it’s definitely a plus to pick a guy off in a situation like that, especially when a guy that can run is on second base with less than two outs.”
Those are the kind of mistakes a postseason novice like the Marlins make.
“I think the culture changed,” manager Skip Schumaker said. “I believe that there’s a new standard in that clubhouse now. Now it’s up to them to protect that standard, honestly.”
With fans again waving their red rally towels, many wearing Phillies overalls popularized by backup catcher Garrett Stubbs, and the team on the brink of a clinch, the Phillies had their way with Miami starter Braxton Garrett.
Philadelphia again had six 20-homer hitters in the lineup but — a night after failing to go deep in Game 1 — again stitched together runs against Garrett.
Kyle Schwarber ripped an RBI double to right in the third that scored Pache for a 1-0 lead. Pache raced around the bases from first, his helmet still bouncing on the dirt as he slid headfirst into home. Trea Turner, the $300 million shortstop, smacked an RBI single that scored Schwarber for a 2-0 lead.
By then, the Game 2 victory seemed inevitable.
After all, there’s a reason the Phillies call the postseason Red October: They just don’t lose at Citizens Bank Park. At least, not often.
The Phillies, who won the 2008 World Series at home, moved to 24-11 in the postseason at the ballpark, the top postseason winning percentage for any team in any park (minimum 20 games).
Realmuto crushed his fourth career postseason homer off David Robertson in the fourth to make it 3-0.
“I think we’ve got a really good club, and I think we’re built for series-type baseball,” Thomson said.
Nola’s night got even better after his wife Hunter Jayde announced on Instagram the couple is expecting a child.
BRING A BROOM
The Phillies joined Minnesota, Arizona and Texas in pulling off first-round sweeps as all four Wild Card Series ended in two games. There have been seven sweeps — including the Phillies over St. Louis last season — in the eight Wild Card Series during the first two years of expanded playoffs.
Shane Victorino hit the other postseason grand slam for the Phillies in Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS off Milwaukee’s CC Sabathia.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB