Phillies

Phillies 10, Braves 4: Grand opening day for Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper and company

Phillies 10, Braves 4: Grand opening day for Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper and company

BOX SCORE

The new and improved Phillies began the Bryce Harper era with three big home runs and a 10-4 opening day victory over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.

The sellout crowd of 44,469 was electric and it had a lot to cheer about, starting with a leadoff home run by newcomer Andrew McCutchen in the first inning and ending with a grand slam by Rhys Hoskins in the seventh. In between, Maikel Franco belted a three-run homer and Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez had two-out RBI hits in the fourth.

Harper went hitless in his first game with the Phils, but was on base for Hoskins’ grand slam after drawing an intentional walk.

Key moments

• Eight of the Phillies’ 10 runs came on long balls.

McCutchen homered on his first swing as a Phillie — the team’s first swing of the season.

Franco, batting in the No. 8 spot after leading the team in hitting last year, capped a strong at-bat with his three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth.

Hoskins put things out of reach with his first career grand slam in the bottom of the seventh.

• With a runner in scoring position and the game tied, 1-1, in the bottom of the fourth, No. 5 hitter J.T. Realmuto drew a two-out walk and Herrera and Hernandez hit consecutive pitches for RBI singles to give the Phils a 3-1 lead.

• Nola put up a dramatic shutdown inning as he struck out the side in the top of the fifth.

Nola's season debut

He battled spotty command and a career-high five walks, but limited damage and held the Braves to two hits and a run over six innings. Nola threw 99 pitches — it’s a new year — and struck out eight. He is 8-3 in 13 career starts against the Braves.

Bullpen usage 

Before the game, manager Gabe Kapler would not tip his hand on how he would work the late innings. He ended up using Hector Neris in the seventh and David Robertson in the eighth so maybe Seranthony Dominguez will get the first shot to close — though Kapler remains reluctant to assign roles in his ‘pen.

Sights and sounds

Harper debuted to huge ovations and fans chanting his name.

He threw a ball into the upper deck during warm-ups and appeared to have raided The Phanatic’s shoe closest by wearing bright, lime-green spikes (see story).

The roar of the sellout crowd for McCutchen’s leadoff homer was right out of 2008. Or 2009. Or 2010. Or 2011.

So was the roar when Hoskins clubbed his grand slam moments after the crowd loudly booed the intentional walk to Harper.

Pregame notes

Outfielder Roman Quinn, on the injured list, is playing in minor-league games in Florida. He could be ready in the next two weeks. Reliever Tommy Hunter will need a good ramp-up, according to Kapler. He could be ready later in April.

Kapler reiterated what he said early in spring training: Third baseman Franco will need to produce to hold off Scott Kingery. Ditto for centerfielder Herrera, who has Aaron Altherr and eventually Quinn behind him.

So far, so good for Franco and Herrera.

Up next

The two teams are off Friday. The series resumes Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. Nick Pivetta starts for the Phillies against Atlanta’s Bryse Wilson.

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At the Yard podcast: 3-batter rule, DH dynamic, NL East predictions

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At the Yard podcast: 3-batter rule, DH dynamic, NL East predictions

Ricky Bottalico and Corey Seidman discuss one big rule change, another on the horizon, and make their NL East predictions in the latest At the Yard podcast.

• How does the new 3-batter rule for relievers change their mentality?

• Which Phillies relievers does it affect the most?

• If the DH does come to the National League in the next two years, how would it help the Phillies?

• Both guys are still vehemently anti-DH.

• Fan Q&A.

• NL East win total predictions.

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Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19

The DH sucks but would undoubtedly help the Phillies

The DH sucks but would undoubtedly help the Phillies

The designated hitter coming to the National League is an inevitability. To some, it's a welcome inevitability. Personally, I hate it, but I acknowledge I'm probably outnumbered.

It's not about watching pitchers hit. That is the over-simplified one-line response from DH proponents. It is about many additional elements of strategy not having a DH adds. If you're a pitcher, it affects how you approach the 6-7-8-9 hitters. There is more thinking ahead. 

That goes for managers, too, who face the difficult of question of, "Do I pull Jacob deGrom with two outs and two on in the bottom of the sixth inning in a scoreless game for the extra offense?"

That doesn't happen in the AL. The Justin Verlanders of the world pitch until they're no longer effective. There is no difficult decision for the manager. 

There is also less need for a bench. AL teams sometimes run three-man benches. And plenty of AL bench players exist only as defensive replacements and/or pinch-runners.

But whatever. It's probably coming. Could be coming as early as 2021, according to Jim Bowden.

It would actually benefit the Phillies, though. The Phils face a potential logjam in the corner infield with Rhys Hoskins, Alec Bohm, Scott Kingery and Jean Segura. Only one of them can play third base. And Hoskins or Bohm would be at first base. If the DH came to the NL in 2021, the Phils could just slot Bohm into that position.

They could also use Hoskins, who isn't exactly an above-average defensive first baseman, as the DH. And toward the end of Bryce Harper's 13-year contract, his days of effective right field defense could be over and that may be the ideal spot for him.

It will be an adjustment when the NL rules change, and there will be some hard feelings, but the baseball world will probaby get over it within a few years. MLB has already adopted the three-batter rule for relievers, altered active rosters to 26 and prevented teams from utilizing their entire 40-man roster in September. These changes, in conjunction, are pretty significant too.

Subscribe and rate At The Yard:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies