In a thrilling turn of events, the Atlanta Braves made history with a jaw-dropping double play that sealed their comeback win against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 2 of the National League Division Series (NLDS). This game will be remembered for years to come, and the hero of the moment was none other than Michael Harris II.
The Braves found themselves in a challenging situation. They had battled back from a four-run deficit, clinging to a slim 5-4 lead in the ninth inning. On top of that, Bryce Harper, one of the Phillies’ most dangerous hitters, was on first base, and Nick Castellanos was up to bat with just one out. Castellanos connected with the pitch, sending a fly ball deep into right-center field. StatCast gave it a staggering .610 expected batting average, a potential home run in most ballparks.
Michael Harris II’s Heroic Read
What happened next was nothing short of remarkable. Michael Harris II, with lightning-fast reflexes and an extraordinary sense of the game, tracked the ball’s trajectory with precision. In his own words, “I knew off the bat it was going to be close to the fence, so I knew once I went back, I wasn’t stopping. I was going to do anything I could to get a glove on it.”
Harris leaped to catch the ball, crashing into the outfield wall. Without wasting a moment, he regained his composure and prepared to make an incredible throw back to the infield, targeting second base. Harper, at this point, had already advanced about five steps past second base.
The Unexpected Turn of Events
Baseball aficionados know that runners on the basepaths should never pass a base, especially when a fly ball is in play. Phillies manager Rob Thomson noted, “Usually you don’t pass the base, you stay in front of it, make sure it’s not caught. But he [Harper] thought the ball was clearly over his head, didn’t think he was going to catch it. And Harris made a heck of a play. Unbelievable. He tried to get back, and he slipped, but usually you stay in front of the second base.”
Austin Riley’s Crucial Role
The plot thickened when second baseman Ozzie Albies missed catching Harris’ throw, but third baseman Austin Riley was in the right place at the right time, standing between second base and the pitcher’s mound, backing up Albies. Riley made a backhanded scoop and fired a laser to first base, completing an astonishing 8-5-3 double play. This was not just any double play; it was the first in MLB postseason history to involve such a sequence and the first to feature an outfielder.
Harris later confessed that he had no idea where Harper was when he made the throw. “We just saw a slomo here [in the clubhouse],” he said. “I didn’t know that he went past second, so I threw it in … I guess Riley was right there in the right spot to make the throw, made an incredible throw.”
Even Bryce Harper himself had to tip his cap to Michael Harris II for the game-changing play. “Just taking a chance,” Harper said of his own baserunning. “Michael made a great play and doubled me up. Tough way to end it.”
The Turning Point
The Phillies had held a 4-0 lead in the sixth inning and a 4-1 advantage in the seventh. However, the Braves’ Travis d’Arnaud injected life into his team with a two-run homer off Zack Wheeler, who had otherwise been dominant, striking out 10 batters and allowing just three hits.
Austin Riley delivered the knockout punch with a go-ahead home run off Jeff Hoffman, turning the tide completely in favor of the Braves. “I was just trying to put a barrel on the ball,” Riley remarked. “That’s all it was. It’s definitely up there with my top [homers].”
What Lies Ahead
With the series now shifting to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4, the excitement is at an all-time high. The Phillies are set to start Aaron Nola in Game 3, while Braves manager Brian Snitker is yet to reveal his Game 3 starter, keeping fans and pundits alike in suspense.
In a sport known for its unpredictability and moments of brilliance, the Braves’ historic double play will undoubtedly be etched in baseball history as one of the most extraordinary moments in postseason play.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who made the historic double play for the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS?
Michael Harris II was the player who made the historic double play for the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS.
What was the situation in the ninth inning when the double play occurred?
The Braves were leading 5-4 in the ninth inning with one out, Bryce Harper on first base, and Nick Castellanos at bat.
How did Michael Harris II describe his thought process during the play?
Michael Harris II mentioned that he knew the ball was going to be close to the fence and was determined to make a play on it.
Why did Bryce Harper pass second base during the play?
Harper thought the ball was going to clear the outfield wall and didn’t anticipate it being caught, which led to him passing second base.
What was the outcome of the game after the historic double play?
The historic double play concluded the game, securing the Braves’ comeback win in Game 2 of the NLDS.
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