Phillies

The thoughts and sounds behind Bryce Harper's jaw-dropping home run

The thoughts and sounds behind Bryce Harper's jaw-dropping home run

Aaron Nola had no chance at seeing where the ball landed.

Not many did, unless you were a fan leisurely strolling through the center-field concourse and enjoying the amenities of Ashburn Alley at Citizens Bank Park.

"I think it went over the stadium, from where I was sitting," Nola said. "It was a long one."

That's how powerfully Bryce Harper struck his first-inning home run in the Phillies' 2-1 win over the Rockies (see observations). The ball left his bat at 114.1 miles per hour, traveled 466 feet and cleared the brick walls in center field.

It was loud and it made the sellout crowd of 42,354 fans louder.

"I think just as a fan, you just stop and watch the distance of the ball," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I don't think we saw a ball go that far to center field all year last year and certainly not this year. That's rare territory. Pretty impressive."

Harper pounced on a first-pitch fastball from Rockies right-hander Antonio Senzatela. The swing consisted of everything you want to see from Harper, who is 5 for 15 (.333) over his last four games with the homer and three doubles.

He's staying back and driving the ball.

"I think he's beginning to feel it," Kapler said. "I think part of that comes from the work he's been doing with [hitting coach] John Mallee, specifically being a little bit taller on his backside and his hands being a little bit closer to his body."

Harper didn't want to make too much about the distance of his home run. He remembered some advice from a former manager and five-time All-Star.

"Matt Williams always used to tell me, 'It's not how far, it's how many you hit,'" Harper said. "I'm just trying to go about it the right way every single day, doing things out there that help this team win. Just putting the bat to the ball and trying to win games.

Harper has eight home runs and 28 RBIs in 45 games. He has a .371 on-base percentage and is second in baseball to only Mike Trout with 34 walks.

However, he's hitting .230 and was 10 for his last 70 (.143) prior to this 5-for-15 stretch. The Phillies are seeing positive signs, though, from Harper's swing.

"We all believed he was going to break out of what he was in," Nola said. "Guy works hard, works hard at what he does. We've all seen what he's done in his career. Nobody is pressing over him, we know he's the gamer that he is and he does a lot to help the team.

On Saturday, it was a walk, a double and vicious contact on the first pitch he saw.

"I think Harp is best when he's gap to gap," Kapler said. "Every once in a while, he's out in front and pulls the ball down the line. He's at his best when he's hitting high line drives into the gaps, and the ones that he gets just underneath go into the seats or in this case, over everything in center field."

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

Phillies 6, Braves 5: Scott Kingery keys uplifting win after 2 injuries and short start from Aaron Nola

Phillies 6, Braves 5: Scott Kingery keys uplifting win after 2 injuries and short start from Aaron Nola

BOX SCORE 

ATLANTA — What was shaping up to be a second straight painful loss for the Phillies was instead an invigorating win.

After they lost two starters to injury (Jay Bruce, J.T. Realmuto) and watched their ace struggle through just 4⅓ innings, the Phillies fought back in the top of the ninth to come back and beat the Braves, 6-5. 

Scott Kingery, the star of the night for the Phillies, keyed the ninth-inning rally with a leadoff single. He went 3 for 3 with a two-run double and a walk and is hitting .347 on the season with a 1.058 OPS.

Braves closer Luke Jackson threw wide of first base on Sean Rodriguez's sacrifice bunt after Kingery began the ninth with a single. Cesar Hernandez followed with the decisive two-run single, and Hector Neris pitched a clean ninth for the save 24 hours after a nightmarish outing.

This was a big-time win. The Braves had won eight straight games and had all the momentum after walking the Phillies off Friday and coming back from an early deficit again Saturday. The Phillies made six straight outs in the seventh and eighth innings and looked like a defeated team.

Instead, they evened the series and go for the improbable series win tomorrow afternoon. At 39-31, the Phils are 1½ games behind the Braves in the NL East. The vibe of this series turned in a hurry.

What is up with Nola?

Walks, home runs, an extremely deliberate pace ... forget 2018, Nola right now isn't even the guy he was in 2017, when he had a mid-3.00s ERA.

Nola has a 4.89 ERA and has already allowed as many home runs in 15 starts as he allowed in 29 starts last season. He has the second-slowest pace in between pitches in all of baseball to Yu Darvish, and his control has been erratic. Nola has walked 4.0 batters per nine innings this season. Prior to this year, he walked 2.5 per nine.

Nola's season has had a very 2009 Cole Hamels vibe to it. 

The Phillies' only reliable starting pitcher this season has been Zach Eflin. That is a problem. This team might not be able to wait until mid- or late-July to add a difference-making starting pitcher.

More injuries

Bruce left the game in the fourth inning with left hamstring tightness, which likely occurred during his sprint around the bases on Kingery's two-run double. Bruce was called out at the plate on the play.

Jean Segura, Kingery and Odubel Herrera have all spent time on the IL this season with hamstring injuries.

In total, 15 different Phillies have been on the injured list this season. Somehow, six teams have had more players on the IL and 12 teams have had more player games lost to injury than the Phillies.

Bruce's injury could expedite Roman Quinn's return to the majors. Quinn was held out of a rehab game Saturday night as a precautionary measure after he was hit by a pitch on the shoulder Friday (see story).

In the fifth inning, Realmuto took a foul ball to the groin and was on the ground for close to five minutes. He was in visible pain the rest of the frame and exited an inning later.

The drop-off from Realmuto to Andrew Knapp is massive. Hopefully for the Phillies, this was just a one-night thing.

Scary moment

Braves lefty Sean Newcomb was removed from the game in the top of the third after being struck on the neck by a Realmuto line drive that left the bat at 102 mph.

Here's footage of the scary play.

Up next

The series concludes tomorrow afternoon at 1:20. The Phillies have not yet named a starter but will face tough righty Mike Foltynewicz, who is off to a slow start this season (1-5, 6.02).

More on the Phillies' options for Sunday's start here

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

Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb leaves game vs. Phillies after being struck on neck by line drive

usa_sean_newcomb_atlanta_braves.jpg
USA Today Images/Jason Getz

Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb leaves game vs. Phillies after being struck on neck by line drive

ATLANTA — Scary, scary moment in the third inning Saturday night in Atlanta. J.T. Realmuto crushed a line drive back up the middle that hit Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb on the side of the head/neck area so hard that it ricocheted all the way from the mound into the Phillies' dugout.

The play was scored a ground-rule double, but that's not what matters, what matters is Newcomb's health. He was examined by the Braves' training staff and quickly removed from the game. Touki Toussaint took over.

Newcomb was wide-eyed as Braves trainers checked on him. He walked off the field under his own power.



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