Phillies

Nationals fans show true colors, give up after 6 innings in Bryce Harper's return

Nationals fans show true colors, give up after 6 innings in Bryce Harper's return

WASHINGTON — The fans came out hot and grabbed all the headlines. On MLB.com, it read “Bryce booed heavily by raucous D.C. crowd.” However, as the game wore on, Nationals fans began to show their true colors. It was a sad display from a fan base that wanted to make a statement.

Walking the concourse before Tuesday night’s game, there was a buzz in the stadium. Nationals fans came out in full force with signs and defaced Harper jerseys. There was even a clown, or three. When Harper was introduced for his first at-bat, the boo birds came raining down on the once-beloved superstar.

The first at-bat was electric. Fans jeered Harper as Max Scherzer pelted the strike zone with upper-90s heat. It was a spectacle. It was what sports are all about. When Harper struck out, the fans erupted. They had their moment, and the upper hand, but that soon would fade.

After another strikeout, with Nationals fans feeling good, Harper laced a double to right, much to the dismay of the home fans, who, for the third time in the game, actually paid attention to what was going on.

Then, things took a drastic change.

With the Phillies leading 5-0, Harper batted with one on and two out. Suddenly, the boos weren’t as loud and the once boisterous fans weren’t so boisterous. The fan base had lost steam after three at-bats and less than two hours. 

As the sixth run crossed the plate, I heard one fan get up from his seat, look at his friend and say, “I hope we get them next time,” as he proceeded toward the exit. In the bottom of the sixth inning, fans raced toward the exit faster than the presidents who raced around the field a few innings earlier.

Signs once held proudly were left abandoned.

The seats, once full of nearly 35,000-plus fans, were empty.

All it took was six innings.

The Phillies fans that made the trip, many of whom camped out in right field to greet Harper each inning, and, perhaps, make him feel more comfortable than he otherwise would have felt, took over the stadium. While it was the Nationals fans who showed up in great numbers and voice early on, it was the Phillies fans who ultimately showed why Harper wanted to play for them for the next 13 years.

… and then this happened.

Harper crushed one 458 feet and the only fans left in the park, wearing Phillies red, gave their new hero a well-deserved applause.

You see, I don’t think Nationals fans were here to boo Harper. They were here to boo, so that Phillies fans couldn’t claim that they took over the stadium. It worked for the length of three at-bats and they simply gave up and went home, while the Phillies fans remained.

After all was said and done, the Phillies fans felt authentic, the Nationals fans felt fake and it was a huge night for Bryce Harper and not for the people who came here hoping to see him fail.

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Phillies 5, Cubs 4 (10 innings): J.T. Realmuto does it all in wacky and wild win at Wrigley Field

Phillies 5, Cubs 4 (10 innings): J.T. Realmuto does it all in wacky and wild win at Wrigley Field

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — J.T. Realmuto was a standout offensively and defensively in leading the Phillies to a 5-4 win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Monday night.

Realmuto was the ultimate hero with a tie-breaking homer in the top of the 10th inning.

Earlier in the game, he drove in the Phils’ first run and made a nice play at the plate to help cut down a run.

Seranthony Dominguez blew a two-run lead as the Cubs surged to a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth.

The Phils tied the game on a two-out hit by Jean Segura in the top of the ninth.

Jake Arrieta pitched six innings of one-run ball in his return to Wrigley Field.

The Phils have won four in a row. They are 28-19.

The Cubs are 27-18.

The keys

• Maikel Franco stroked a one-out double in the top of the ninth and Andrew McCutchen came back from being down 0-2 to draw a big two-out walk before Segura tied the game with a bloop single to right.

• Dominguez could not throw strikes in the eighth, his second inning of work. He walked two and they both scored on a game-tying triple by Daniel Descalso. Descalso scored the go-ahead run on an error by Segura. Ultimately, Segura atoned.

• Juan Nicasio got a huge double-play ball to earn the save.

• The Phillies kept the game close in the early innings by playing excellent defense. They cut down runners at the plate in the second and fifth innings. Second baseman Cesar Hernandez made a nice, charging play and throw to get a force at the plate in the second inning. In the fifth, the Cubs loaded the bases against Arrieta with one out on a double, a walk and a single. Arrieta then got Albert Almora Jr. to hit a fly ball to rightfielder Bryce Harper. Anthony Rizzo tagged on the play, but Harper cut him down with a strong throw to catcher Realmuto. The throw was slightly up the line. Realmuto made an athletic play to step up on the ball and sweep back with the tag to get Rizzo for the third out.

• Moments after Harper’s throw (and Realmuto’s tag) ended the bottom of the fifth, the Phillies rallied for three two-out runs in the top of the sixth to take a 3-1 lead. Cubs’ starter Yu Darvish walked two batters, including Harper, in the inning and Realmuto and Hernandez had the big hits, both with two outs. Realmuto got the Phils on the board with an RBI single and Hernandez stroked a two-run triple down the right-field line to put the Phils ahead.

Arrieta's night

The veteran right-hander made his first start against the Cubs, the team with which he won a Cy Young Award and a World Series. He has now faced all 30 teams in his career.

Arrieta was not at his sharpest — he allowed 10 base runners over six innings — but he got important outs when he had to and was the beneficiary of some excellent defense. He allowed just one run over six innings and struck out four.

Sights and sounds

The Wrigley Field crowd saluted Arrieta with a standing ovation as he reached the batter’s box in the top of the third inning. Arrieta tipped his cap in appreciation.


Health check

Victor Arano’s sore elbow is not getting better. What does it mean? (see story)

Up next

Zach Eflin (5-4, 2.89) opposes lefty Jose Quintana (4-3, 3.68) on Tuesday night.

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Vince Velasquez feels great, but Victor Arano needs a second opinion

Vince Velasquez feels great, but Victor Arano needs a second opinion

CHICAGO — Vince Velasquez’s elbow is feeling better.

Victor Arano’s is not.

Let’s start with Arano:

One of the Phillies’ top relievers last season, Arano has had a difficult 2019. He struggled badly in spring training and opened the season with a quick trip to the minors. Most recently, he has been plagued by a sore right elbow.

Even after a month on the injured list, Arano is still feeling discomfort in the elbow. The team will send him to Los Angeles next Monday to be examined by noted orthopedist Neal ElAttrache.

“Victor came out of his last bullpen not feeling great so we’re going to get him a second opinion,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I’m concerned because he’s concerned. Any time that our pitchers have concerns, I’m going to be concerned right along with them.”

Could it be that Arano is on his way to Tommy John surgery?

“That doesn't feel like the concern right now,” Kapler said. “That’s not what we’re thinking. But to have him go get examined because he has a little bit of swelling and discomfort feels like the right play.”

As for Velasquez: He played long toss up to 120 feet on Monday and later said he felt completely healthy. The right-hander went on the injured list nine days ago with soreness in his elbow.

“No pain,” Velasquez said. “I’m 100 percent.”

“He’s good,” Kapler confirmed. “There are no long-term concerns.”

Velasquez is scheduled to throw in the bullpen on Wednesday.

At some point in the near future, the Phils are going to have to make a decision on Velasquez. He is out of minor-league options. Once he’s activated, he will have to go back in the starting rotation or be used out of the bullpen. Velasquez wants to remain a starter, but his replacement, lefty Cole Irvin, has authored two quality starts (and victories) since being called up. Irvin pitches Wednesday night against the Cubs and Cole Hamels.

Also of note, outfielder Roman Quinn, on the IL with a strained groin, has progressed to the point where he’s probably just a week away from playing in minor-league games.

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