Phillies

Bryce Harper clears Green Monster, bullpen deals in Phillies sweep over Red Sox

Bryce Harper clears Green Monster, bullpen deals in Phillies sweep over Red Sox

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BOSTON – The Phillies shipped up to Boston, got some out-of-their-mind pitching and took a pair of games from the majors’ top hitting team.

The Phils completed a two-game sweep of the Red Sox with a tense 5-2 win at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

The Phillies had just six hits in the game, but four of them were for extra bags and accounted for three runs.

The stat is pretty amazing: The Phillies are 57-16 when they score four or more runs. Getting four can be a problem for this offense. They scored just three on Tuesday night but got the win behind Aaron Nola.

The Phillies, who entered the game two back in the NL wild-card chase, head into an off day Thursday with a 66-60 record.

The drought ends

The Phillies scored three runs in the first inning of Tuesday night’s series opener and nothing the rest of the game. Nola and the bullpen made those three runs stand up for the win. The Phils opened Wednesday night’s game with four scoreless innings, running their scoring drought to 12, before putting a three-spot on the board in the fifth inning. Bryce Harper had the big blow, a two-run homer with one out that put the Phils ahead. Harper has 27 homers and 92 RBIs.

Dickerson shines

Corey Dickerson’s RBI triple in the seventh was a big hit for the Phils. He added an RBI single in the ninth for more valuable insurance. Both of Dickerson’s runs scored Rhys Hoskins, who doubled, walked twice and scored twice out of the leadoff hole. Hoskins scored three of the Phillies’ eight runs in the series.

Keep ‘em in it

Drew Smyly needed 32 pitches (16 strikes, 16 balls) to get through the first inning and, predictably, did not last long. He pitched 3 2/3 innings. But Smyly, who threw 84 pitches in those 3 2/3 innings, did manage to hold the Red Sox to two runs, a feat considering he allowed eight base runners. Smyly did a good job limiting damage and keeping his team in the game. He also got a huge assist from reliever Jared Hughes, who came on with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth and retired last year’s American League MVP, Mookie Betts, on a ground ball to third.

The Phillies rallied for three runs in the top of the fifth and Hughes stayed on for a quick shutdown frame, retiring the middle of Boston’s order, in the bottom of the inning.

Check out the bullpen

It was outstanding in the two games. It picked up two scoreless innings Tuesday night and 5 1/3 in this one.

Mike Morin got two big outs in the eighth inning on Tuesday night. He got two more in the seventh in this one. Both nights, he struck out Betts.

Lefty Jose Alvarez, whose contributions have been unsung this season, registered one of the biggest outs of the series when he struck out Chris Owings with runners on second and third to end the eighth and preserve a two-run lead. Harper made a big play in right field earlier in the inning. He cut off a ball that likely saved a run.

Hector Neris saved both wins.

Still not good

The Phillies needed every ounce of their good pitching to win this one because the offense, despite some extra-base pop, went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.

The DH decision

A pregame look at the stat sheet suggested that Brad Miller might get a start as the designated hitter. Miller is 13 for 47 with five homers and 12 RBIs lifetime against Rick Porcello, who was Boston’s starter.

But Gabe Kapler went with Logan Morrison as the DH. He also had good pregame numbers against Porcello – 12 for 40 with two homers and five RBIs.

In making his decision, Kapler watched video of every plate appearance that Miller and Morrison had in their careers against Porcello. That’s over 90 plate appearances. Kapler then went to the Phillies’ recent data on Porcello and noticed that the right-hander had been throwing his four-seam fastball more than his sinking two-seamer. Kapler surmised that Morrison’s swing would fare better against that pitch than Miller’s.

Kapler alerted Miller of his decision with an early afternoon text message.

And that’s the story behind the story on how Kapler picked a DH for the game.

By the way, Morrison was hitless in two at-bats against Porcello.

Up next

Vince Velasquez will pitch Friday night in Miami. The Marlins had not named a starter.

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Jayson Werth always had a hunch his pal Bryce Harper would end up a Phillie

Jayson Werth always had a hunch his pal Bryce Harper would end up a Phillie

CLEARWATER, Fla. — On the one-year anniversary of his decision to join the Phillies, Bryce Harper received a visit from an old friend Friday. 

The visitor did not need directions to the Phillies' clubhouse. Jayson Werth spent four seasons with the Phils and helped the team win the World Series in 2008 before moving on to Washington, where he played with Harper for six seasons.

Werth became a mentor to Harper in Washington and as Harper's service-time clock ticked toward free agency, Werth always believed there was a chance his friend would find his way to Philadelphia.

"I always thought this would be a possible destination for him, even way back when, for a bunch of reasons," Werth said. "Kind of where the team was, the money was right, the owner was right, the town's right.

"But more than anything else," Werth added with widening eyes, "Citizens Bank Park is just an awesome place to hit. We always talked about that.

"I don't want people to think I was pushing him there. As players, you just have those conversations. We talked about every stadium while we were stretching in the outfield, while we were on airplanes. I couldn't even figure out how many hours I spent talking to this kid, so stuff like that comes up."

In his seven seasons with the Nationals from 2011 to 2017, Werth tormented the Phillies by hitting .291 with a .922 OPS, 15 homers and 45 RBIs in 52 games.

Werth's 16 career homers in Citizens Bank Park — he hit one as a member of the Dodgers — are second-most at the park by a visiting hitter. David Wright of the New York Mets hit 22 in the park.

Harper hit .260 with an .882 OPS, 35 homers and 114 RBIs in his first season with the Phillies last year. He had a .939 OPS, 20 homers and 63 RBIs at home.

Werth had a love-hate relationship with Phillies fans. They mostly loved him when he wore the red pinstripes and mostly rode him when he moved on to Washington.

He laughs about it now.

"As bad as they can be, they can also be really good," Werth said. "I took it with a grain of salt. It was kind of fun. I was getting booed off the field and at the same time, I was probably playing my best baseball every game I was there. So it was good. It raises everything."

By now Philadelphia fans are familiar with Harper's fiery, hair-flying style of play.

"I always thought that would be something Philadelphia would love," Werth said.

Werth retired in 2018 so both he and Harper were gone from Washington when the Nationals, after failing to make it past the Division Series four times in seven years, finally won the World Series last fall.

Harper watched the entire World Series on television and was thrilled for his old friends.

Werth actually attended the World Series games in Washington and was in attendance for the Nats' Game 7 clincher in Houston.

He felt he had to be.

"I was looking for closure," he said. "It felt like it closed the book on my career, like mission accomplished, job well done. 

"I signed there when nobody wanted anything to do with that place. Harper was a first-round pick when they were coming off 100-loss seasons. Me, Bryce, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman and a bunch of other guys in 2011 and 2012 kind of turned the franchise around and the fruits of that labor were ripe for the picking last year, finally. So I was elated for those guys and the owners, the front office, (GM) Mike Rizzo, the whole thing."

Werth did not visit the victorious Washington clubhouse after Game 7.

"That wasn't for me," he said. "It was for those guys."

Harper is entering the second season of a 13-year, $330-million contract with the Phillies. The Phillies are banking on him leading the club to a World Series title one of these years.

It's something Harper, a former National League Rookie of the Year and MVP, badly wants.

"He wants to win," Werth said. "He's got everything. There's really not much on the list for him except that.

"He's the type of kid that grew up wanting to be a Hall of Famer. Most kids grow up wanting to be big leaguers. He grew up wanting to be a Hall of Famer. The ring, winning a championship, the parade, all that stuff comes with it. That's not a stretch for me to think those are things he wants."

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Phillies Talk podcast: Opinions on Bryce Harper after a year in Phillies pinstripes

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Phillies Talk podcast: Opinions on Bryce Harper after a year in Phillies pinstripes

Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman got together for a lil' Phillies Talk on the one-year anniversary of the Bryce Harper signing. Aside from their opinions and big-picture takeaways from Harper's first year with the Phillies, the guys discussed Zack Wheeler's imminent debut, Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen.

• Zack Wheeler debuts Saturday — what are we looking for?

• Some Phillies hitters thrilled to not have to face Wheeler anymore.

• Why so much Jean Segura at 3B early in camp?

• Defensive upgrades in the infield.

• Where is Andrew McCutchen? How does the knee look?

• Recalling the buzz in Phillies camp when Harper signed.

• The overlooked aspect of Harper's first season in Philly.

• How many Phillies records can Harper set?

• Honesty from J.T. Realmuto about Phillies pitchers, coaching changes and disrespect from the outside.

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More on the Phillies