Update: In his first at-bat Saturday, Didi Gregorius hit another bomb, this one traveling 417 feet all the way to the second deck in right field. It came on an 0-2 pitch, right after analyst John Kruk had commented about the effortless power of Gregorius' swing.
DIDI!— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) July 25, 2020
Gregorius with a second-deck homer to get things going. 1-0, Phillies. pic.twitter.com/b9fyHjdhW3
The Phillies' offense mustered very little in Friday's season-opening loss to underrated, hard-throwing Marlins sinkerballer Sandy Alcantara. The Phils had just five hits, four of them singles, and only three at-bats all night with a runner in scoring position.
Two of those five hits came from Didi Gregorius, who hit a game-tying home run to right field and later singled sharply between first and second.
WELCOME TO PHILLY, DIDI GREGORIUS.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) July 25, 2020
A homer out to right field and the game is all tied up. pic.twitter.com/Xl0vGfcRGH
Gregorius became the first Phillie to homer in his debut with the team since way back on opening day 2019 when Andrew McCutchen did it in his first at-bat. Gregorius has a swing conducive to slugging at Citizens Bank Park. Long before he homered Friday night, you could envision him launching balls into the first or second deck in right field with that slight uppercut. In a full season, he could hit 30 homers here. His career-high was 27 with the Yankees in 2018, when he played in only 134 games.
The hope would be, though, that he doesn't become enamored with the short porch in right and can also get on base at a clip higher than his .313 career mark.
"I always try to hit a pitch up the middle," Gregorius said after the game. "It was my first time facing [Alcantara]. Try not to get off his fastball, that's all I tried to do. His sinker, he was throwing 97-98, his sinker was moving a lot. He had the hitters chasing, that's one thing he had against us."
There were air-fives after Gregorius' home run, the 2020 norm. During pregame intros, there were about a dozen elbow-bumps. It's new to the fans, but the players already seem used to it.
"We got to talk, we got to fake high-five and all that," Gregorius said. "We see what's going on and were prepared for it."
The Phillies' struggles against the Marlins obviously predate Gregorius' arrival. Since their final meeting in the 2018 season, the Marlins are 12-9 against the Phillies and 52-113 against everyone else, a .315 winning percentage.
Gregorius had heard about that and had a conversation with some teammates about it in the dugout.
"I talked to the guys actually during the game because I heard about it, but hearing is different than playing," he said. "Some guys said for some reason they always get us. We have to try to stop it, beat 'em and play a good game."
Doing it has been much harder than saying it for the Phillies, who have nine more meetings with the Marlins this season and sure would like to win this series before playing four straight against the Yankees.