PHILADELPHIA — Around the sports world, Philadelphia fans’ reputation precedes them. They are tough and rowdy. They can be extremely difficult on visiting teams and the opponent’s fans. They do not pull any punches (sometimes literally).

And now there is this: On Friday, Citizens Bank Park will host a postseason game for the first time since 2011. The Phillies fans – the die-hards who have lived through a lengthy playoff drought, with many disappointments along the way – can unleash that bottled-up energy from years of losing.

“It’s going to be a rowdy, hostile environment there in Philly,” A.J. Minter said. “We’re fully aware of the stadium there, and we’ve played there so many different times. So we feel confident going in there.”

This time, the atmosphere promises to be different. The stakes are high, as the teams are tied at one game apiece in the best-of-five National League Division Series. Winning Game 3 could provide a lot of momentum.

If the Braves win Friday’s game, they will need one more victory to advance to the NL Championship Series. And they would be promised a trip back to Truist Park for a potential Game 5, if it came to that.

If the Braves lose? Well, their season will be on the line Saturday at a place hosting only its second playoff game in 11 years.

The Braves know they need to start fast to take the crowd out of Friday’s game.

“Definitely,” Michael Harris said. “You want to come out swinging and put up runs early to help your pitcher out. If you can keep the home team quiet, that helps a lot, honestly. You might not think so, but it really does. Keeping the momentum on your side is just a big key in trying to win games.”

These Braves, as we have often said, have seen everything. They have played in every environment imaginable, including needing to win games at Dodger Stadium and Minute Maid Park in Houston during their World Series run last year. They have played in Philadelphia many times.

In his days as a third base coach, Brian Snitker, who now guides the Braves as their manager, remembers that “every game we played there was nuts.” He doesn’t think his players will be rattled.

“These guys are used to it,” Snitker said. “It’s going to be, I guess, the so-called hostile environment, obviously. But they’re used to, the last two nights, the last – this whole year has been nuts here (at Truist Park). It’s been like playoff baseball pretty much the entire year here. And I don’t think it’s anything that they haven’t been exposed to, and probably they’ll feed off it like they feed off our fans here in Atlanta.”

Snitker is right: In the regular season, the Braves hosted 3,129,931 fans over 81 home games, which marked the club’s highest number of tickets sold since 2000 and the sixth-highest single-season ticket-sales figure in franchise history. The Braves sold out 42 games, which was over half of their home schedule and averaged 38,641 fans per game, the fourth-best mark in the majors.

The Braves know what a home-field advantage is and how it can be impactful. They also have respect for the Phillies, who are playing their best baseball.

“And props to Philly for taking a season just kind of like ours last year, a .500 team, and turn it on at the end when they needed to,” Minter said. “They’re a very good team. Very talented team. I know they’re excited to play in the postseason and get some revenge after us. And it’s going to be an exciting few games.”

Being the visiting team in a postseason game presents challenges in general because the crowd can become a factor. This time, that crowd will be full of enthusiastic fans from a crazy sports city who haven’t seen their beloved baseball team in the postseason in over a decade.

“I feel like with it being that way, they would show up because it’s probably been so long since they’ve had a (postseason) game there,” Harris said. “So I expect their fans to come out and support them like ours do and help them to try to get the win.”

Braves have not named a Game 3 starter

On a Zoom call Thursday, an off-day in the Braves-Phillies series, Snitker didn’t name a Game 3 starter.

The Braves, the manager said, are still going through different scenarios.

“It’s just what we do,” Snitker said. “We discuss a lot of different options and different scenarios. It’s complicated – but isn’t. Like I say, we just want to weigh everything – best-case, worst-case scenarios, things like that, I guess. Just discuss it and get everybody’s opinion. I think it’s just good because it’s an important thing here.”

Charlie Morton and Spencer Strider seem like the likeliest options to start Game 3. And at this point, you would have to think that the one who doesn’t pitch Friday will start Saturday.

Here’s a certainty: Strider will pitch in this series, Snitker said. The Braves are deciding how to use him.

Strider, who has recovered from an oblique strain, has not pitched since Sept. 18. It seems like the Braves might not know how many innings Strider could pitch after the long layoff, which appears to be one factor they’re considering in all of this.

Snitker said Strider was available to pitch in Wednesday’s Game 2 if the Braves had needed him (as in an extra-innings game). And it seems like Strider has not thrown many full bullpen sessions because the Braves have not known when they’ll need to use him. (Snitker said Strider has thrown 1 ½ bullpen sessions).

Snitker said Strider is healthy.

“We’re confident. I think, physically, he’s where he needs to be,” Snitker said.

The rookie is eager to pitch.

“He would pitch today if we let him,” Snitker said.

More on Charlie Morton

Morton has experienced an up-and-down season, notching a 4.34 ERA over 31 starts.

But this is not the regular season – it’s the postseason. And Postseason Charlie Morton is different.

Since 2017, he has a 3.36 ERA over 16 postseason games, 15 of them starts. Opponents have hit .222 against him in that span. He has 85 strikeouts over 72 ⅓ innings in those games.

“He’s just even-keeled,” Minter said. “He’s the same person every day. Never lets the situation get too big. He comes in, has a smile on his face. Says hi to everyone when he walks in. But when he’s on the mound, you can tell a switch flips. Super-focused, confident.

“He never gets the situation too big. And you want a pitcher out there that doesn’t show emotion and just always locked in and even-keeled.”

Something to potentially monitor: In 16 starts at home in the regular season, Morton had a 3.05 ERA. In 15 starts on the road, he posted a 5.72 ERA.

Asked Wednesday if there are any working theories about this, Snitker said: “I just try not to make too much of that. I don’t know.”

A cool moment for Michael Harris

As a kid, Harris loved the Braves and always watched their games. Last year, he went to postseason games at Truist Park when he was still a minor leaguer.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, he got to experience the postseason atmosphere from a different angle.

“It’s just been fun,” Harris said. “Me being from here, knowing how these fans work and just being in an environment and actually being on the field, it was crazy.”