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.
• 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.
Sometimes what the first batter does is an indication of how the season will go.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) March 28, 2019
THAT'LL DO. pic.twitter.com/XrLgmqSn0G
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.
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.
It's a thunderous ovation for Bryce Harper before his first at-bat in Philadelphia! pic.twitter.com/8aG306iRKK— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) March 28, 2019
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.
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.
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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