Rookie Kyle Wright dazzled for six innings in his post-season debut, and Atlanta rode its superb pitching to beat the Miami Marlins 7-0 Thursday for a three-game sweep and its first trip to the NL Championship Series since 2001.
There were only a few scattered cheers as Atlanta wrapped up the series in an almost empty Minute Maid Park, where the only fans allowed were players’ friends and families.
The team will play the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Diego in the NLCS starting Monday in Arlington, Texas. It had not advanced to the NLCS since it was led by Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, a team managed by Bobby Cox.
Wright (1-0) was sharp despite not pitching since Sept. 25, allowing three hits and walking two with a career-high seven strikeouts. A.J. Minter, Jacob Webb and Shane Greene finished the five-hitter to give Atlanta four shutouts in five playoff games.
Atlanta is the second team in history to throw four shutouts in the first five playoff games, joining the 1905 New York Giants.
Travis d’Arnaud doubled twice, with the first one driving in two runs in Atlanta’s big third inning. The veteran catcher, who bounced around three teams in a tough 2019, helped steady Atlanta’s young starters, was 6 for 10 with three doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs in the sweep.
Rookie Sixto Sanchez (0-1) walked Ronald Acuna Jr. to start the third, and Acuna stole second before advancing to third on a single by Freddie Freeman. Marcell Ozuna laced a single that scored Acuna.
D’Arnaud knocked a double off the bullpen in right-centre to send two home and extend the lead to 3-0. Atlanta tacked on another run on a sacrifice fly by Dansby Swanson.
Sanchez, who threw five scoreless frames in Game 2 of the wild card, was done after that inning, allowing four hits and runs with three walks as he tied his shortest outing of the season.
The Marlins had a chance to cut into the lead in the bottom of the inning when they loaded the bases with two outs. But Jazz Chisholm grounded out to end the threat.
It was a theme throughout the day for Miami, which went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.