Phillies

Phillies 5, Braves 1: Bryce Harper crushes another home run as Phillies earn sweep

Phillies 5, Braves 1: Bryce Harper crushes another home run as Phillies earn sweep

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The Phillies completed a rousing opening weekend of the season with 5-1 win over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday night.

The Phils took all three games against the defending NL East champions to notch their first season-opening sweep since 2011, which marked their last winning season and trip to the playoffs.

Four days into the new season, the Phils are the only team in baseball without a loss.

Once again, the Phils showed power as Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper homered. The Phils had eight homers in the series. Fifteen of the 23 runs that they scored in the series came on homers.

Harper had his best game yet. In addition to the homer, he doubled and walked twice.

Unlike the first two games of the series, this one was not a sellout, but the attendance was still strong — 41,410 on a cold and blustery night. Total attendance for the three games was 130,476.

Key moments

• McCutchen tied the game with a solo home run leading off the third inning. The Phillies’ new left fielder homered twice in the series, both on the first swing of an at-bat.

• J.T. Realmuto drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth, but he made his biggest impact behind the plate, gunning down would-be base stealers in the first and sixth innings.

• Rhys Hoskins drew a bases-loaded walk in the fifth. Atlanta pitching walked three and hit a batter in that inning.

On the night, Braves’ pitchers walked nine batters and hit two.

Arrieta’s night

Jake Arrieta’s season debut was not pretty. He walked six batters and hit another in six innings of work. Just 55 of his 104 pitches were strikes. But on a difficult night to pitch, Arrieta never gave in and his ability to hold the Braves one run was key.

What was that?

Atlanta starter Kyle Wright walked three straight batters with two outs in the first inning, setting up Odubel Herrera with the bases loaded. The situation begged for Herrera to be selective, maybe even take a pitch. So what happened? Herrera swung through a first-pitch changeup in the dirt and proceeded to strike out on four pitches, leaving the bases loaded.

Sights and sounds

Arrieta provided one of the game’s most entertaining moments when he battled Wright through an 11-pitch at-bat leading off the bottom of the fifth. Arrieta fouled off six pitches, including four in a row, before lining out to center field. With each foul ball, the crowd became more and more animated to the point where fans were on their feet for the final pitch. They gave Arrieta a standing ovation on his way back to the dugout.

In the seventh inning, after Harper homered and Hoskins was plunked with a pitch that resulted in reliever Shane Carle’s ejection, the fans did the Tomahawk Chop to mock the Braves.

Up next

The Phillies are off on Monday.

They open a quick but hotly anticipated two-game series in Washington on Tuesday night. The series marks Harper’s return to D.C. Zach Eflin will oppose Nationals ace Max Scherzer in the series opener.

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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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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