Braves Harris II Seals Game 2 Tie with Incredible Double Play

10.10.2023 posted by Admin

Braves Game 2 Triumph: Michael Harris II's Heroic Double Play

In a thrilling Game 2 of the National League Division Series, the Atlanta Braves pulled off an incredible double play to tie the series against the Philadelphia Phillies, thanks to a remarkable play by Michael Harris II.

The Braves had mounted a comeback from a four-run deficit and were holding onto a narrow 5-4 lead in the ninth inning. With Bryce Harper on first base and Nick Castellanos at the plate with one out, Castellanos launched a deep fly ball to right-center field, a hit that had the potential to be a home run in most ballparks and had an impressive .610 expected batting average according to StatCast.

Harris, however, had a keen read on the situation. He later explained, "From the moment the ball left the bat, I knew it was going to be close to the fence. So, I committed to going all out, determined to make a play."

Harris made an astonishing leap to catch the ball just before crashing into the outfield wall. Without hesitation, he regained his footing and fired the ball back to the infield towards second base. At this point, Harper was a few steps past second base, which was unusual.

Phillies manager Rob Thomson commented, "Normally, a runner wouldn't pass the base. They'd stay in front of it to ensure the ball isn't caught. But Harper believed the ball was out of reach, so he kept running. Harris made an incredible play. Unbelievable. Harper tried to retreat, but he slipped. Typically, you stay in front of second base."

Second baseman Ozzie Albies attempted to field Harris' throw but missed, and third baseman Austin Riley was positioned between second base and the pitcher's mound, backing up Albies. Interestingly, this positioning was not planned.

Riley explained, "I think I ended up in that spot because I was shouting 'one,' and my momentum just carried me in that direction. It turned out to be the right place at the right time."

Riley swiftly scooped the ball with a backhanded grab and fired it to first base in a fluid motion, similar to fielding a slow roller hit to third base. This extraordinary play sealed the game, marking the first-ever 8-5-3 double play in MLB postseason history and the first double play in postseason history to involve an outfielder.

After the game, Harris admitted that he didn't know Harper's exact location, which led him to throw the ball towards second base. He added, "We just watched the slow-motion replay in the clubhouse. I had no idea that he had gone past second, so I made the throw... I guess Riley happened to be in the perfect spot to make an incredible throw."

Harper praised Harris for his remarkable play, acknowledging his own daring baserunning and acknowledging that Harris had outperformed him with an incredible play that resulted in a double play to end the game.

The Phillies had been leading 4-0 in the sixth inning and 4-1 in the seventh when Braves catcher Travis d'Arnaud launched a two-run homer against former Mets teammate Zack Wheeler, narrowing the gap to 4-3. This marked the end of an otherwise impressive performance by Wheeler, who recorded 10 strikeouts, issued only one walk, and allowed just three hits.

Riley spoke about the Braves' mindset leading up to d'Arnaud's home run, saying, "We were trying to maintain a positive attitude in the dugout. Everyone was saying we had to keep pushing forward. Wheeler had a fantastic night and was incredibly dominant... Once we got the crowd back into it, positive things started happening."

Riley himself played a pivotal role by hitting a go-ahead home run off Jeff Hoffman, securing the victory for the Braves.

"I was simply trying to make solid contact with the ball," Riley explained. "That was my sole focus. This home run definitely ranks among my top moments."

With the series now shifting to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4, the Phillies will send Aaron Nola to the mound in Game 3. Braves manager Brian Snitker will likely announce the starting pitcher for Game 3 on Tuesday.
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