The Phillies first Opening Day win – see full recap here – since 2014, was chock full of firsts.
Game 1 Additional Notes
Seven Phillies were starting the season on an MLB Roster for the first time: Aaron Altherr, Tommy Joseph, Andrew Knapp, Adam Morgan, Edubray Ramos, Joely Rodriguez and Brock Stassi. Stassi (as noted below appeared in the opener) and Knapp each made their initial MLB appearances, both starting on Thursday.
Full of Phirsts:
Openers are always a breeding ground for firsts, but this one seemed to have more than it’s share, along with a ton of first in a while’s.
To start off, it was the first opening day W for Jeremy Hellickson and Manager Pete Mackanin.
Michael Saunders, yes in his inaugural start as a Phillie, was lucky enough to be the first Phillies hitter to earn the new No-Pitch IBB. It isn’t often I get to sincerely say Thank you MLB. This was a simple change that was a long time coming.
Stassi got his first MLB plate appearance as a pinch hitter and drew a five-pitch walk in the 8th inning, so he was still looking for his first official AB.
First In A While’s:
Cesar Hernandez‘ lead-off HR was the first Phillie since 2B Emmett (Heinie) Mueller did the same in 1938 (April 19 vs. Brooklyn), the final opener in Baker Bowl history.
When Freddy Galvis went deep in the next inning, it was the first time the Phillies 2B and SS homered in an opener since 2008. I think you all know who those two were.
Hellickson, helping himself, knocked in the ultimately winning run with a 3B. He was the first Phillie since Erskine Mayer on April 16th (Happy B-Day Diana) 1918.
It was the first triple by any pitcher on Opening Day since the Giants‘ Jack Sanford against the Colt .45s at Colt Stadium on April 9, 1963.
Game 2, 4/5/17 RHP Jerad Eickhoff Vs LHP Brandon Finnegan:
After a 50 minute rain delay, the Phillies offense continued their good 1st inning approach, 25 pitches seen, 27 in first game against Scott Feldman. After that not so much as Finnegan set down 19 batters in a row.
This game turned into a story I seemed to write over and over last season, especially with Eickhoff on the mound. Last season Eickhoff had the 5th worst BA support in NL, and that reared it’s head again in the second game, as Jerad pitched way well enough to earn a W, but got saddled with a 2-0 loss.
The Reds did not get a 3rd hit until Joey Votto sent a no out, 1-0 curveball over RCF wall in the 7th. That would be enough to win this as the Phillies mustered but 4 scattered hits.
Zack Cozart who had a very good opening series, knocked in the 2nd run with two outs that sent Jerad to the bench.
Joely Rodriguez got the last out with some help from Maikel Franco to set Eickhoff’s line in the L, 6.2 In, 5H, 2R, both earned, 1BB, 6K, 1 HR, 80P – 49 for strikes.
The Reds also went to the pen so Finnegan earned the W with 7 In, 1H, 0R, 1BB, 9K, 88P – 58 for strikes.
Pat Neshek had an easy 1-2-3 inning in his Phillies debut with 2 Ks.
Raisel Iglesias came on to get the S for Cincinnati.
Game 3: 4/6/17 RHP Clay Buchholz Vs RHP Rookie Davis – MLB Debut
Talking about firsts, a slew of Phillies made their inaugural appearances in the chilly matinee; Knapp and Stassi each got their 1st MLB starts, but it was Nava who made the biggest impression in the 7-4 loss. He almost single-handedly gave the Phillies an early lead hitting a one strike, one out solo shot to RCF in the first, and then a no out 2 run shot even deeper to RCF scoring Cesar Hernandez who had singled to lead off the 3rd inning.
Nava is the first player to HR in his first PA with 2 different teams since Marlon Byrd (Cubs & Giants). Nava hit a GS on his first MLB pitch. Nava became the 3rd Phillie in modern times to have HRs in each of first 2 plate appearances joining Jeremy Giambi ’02 and Gene Freese ’59. He would end his Phillies debut, 2/3, 2H, 3RBI, 1BB, 1K, 2 HR, BA .667, OPS 3.417.
Unfortunately that was the main highlight for the Phillies, as Buchholz, making his first start as a Phillie, was in and out of trouble all afternoon. Their only other run was when Odubel Herrera scored on a Davis WP in that 3rd and final inning for Davis.
The damage was done when Clay loaded the bases with no outs in the 4th, and gave up three runs to let the Reds tie the game at 4. Cozart who had a Sac Fly back in the 2nd, also knocked in the first of the three runs.
Buckholz lasted one more full inning, 7H, 4R, all earned, 2BB, 3K, 77 pitches – 51 for strikes, becoming the first starter not to throw a QS, in the series for the Phillies.
Adam Morgan came on in relief in the 6th. With 2 outs, so as not to be left behind in the footnotes, proceeded to give up a HR to PH, RP Micheal Lorenzen. Lorenzen’s pinch HR was the 1st by any pitcher since Micah Owings (also a Red) May 10th 2009. To make things even weirder, the Reds were the only NL team w no pinch HRs last year. It was Lorenzen’s 2nd HR in his 3rd year in MLB, and his 8th RBI, 6th R, in 42 AB.
Morgan would go on to give up a two run HR in the 7th, and the Phillies bats again went silent, for a final score of 7-4.
Davis did not last long enough to get the W, so it went to Cody Reed, who came on in the 5th inning. Buchholz earned the L, and the S went to veteran Drew Storen.
Except for Buchholz, the Phillies have to be pleased with job the starters have done. The pen except for Morgan today, has also done their job well.
Jeanmar Gomez, though did make things a bit more interesting than needed, while saving the opener.
“I’m concerned,” Mackanin said about Gomez’s shaky performance. “I had two guys up in the ‘pen in that ninth inning [Joely Rodriguez and Pat Neshek]. He’s just not getting the ball down the way he did when he was successful. I want to make sure that he gets opportunities, but at the same time, I don’t want to let games slip away.
As for the offense, they looked patient and seemed to have a plan in the first innings of the first two games, but it seemed like after that they fell back into their old habits. For the series they struck out 33 times, while walking 12. They totaled in 96 AB, 20H, 8R, 7RBI, 4HR. A paltry BA of .208, and not much better OBP .296, SLG .406, OPS .703. That was after 7 XBH mostly early in game one.
I am hoping new Hitting Coach Matt Stairs gives them an earful for getting away from the approach they have been preaching all spring.
I am not really a big fan of pining over players that are no longer here, unless they are playing the Phils, but two items the last few days merit attention in this post.
You all know by now that Ryan Howard signed with the Atlanta Braves to a MiLB deal and is ticketed for AAA Gwinnett after an extended Spring Training. Having lived through seeing Darren Daulton win a ring with the Marlins before the Phillies, and seeing many ’80 and ’08 players do well elsewhere, I will survive seeing Ryan in that uni. It will be nice to see him get a chance to extend his career, though it would seem like he would be better suited for a DH job in the AL.
Late last week Jimmy Rollins was released by the San Francisco Giants. It would seem likely that rather than sign a MiLB deal, which at this point would mean actually playing in the minors, that he will retire and go back to some sort of media work.
One can only wish both of these good guys all the luck in whatever the decide to do in the future.
The Phils return for the Opening Homestand of 6 games to face the Washington Natinals starting tomorrow. Washington is 2-1 to start the season.
Friday 04/07/17 3:05 NBC10 RHP Vince Velasquez Vs RHP Max Scherzer
Saturday 04/08/17 7:05 RHP Aaron Nola Vs TBD
Sunday 04/09/17 1:05 RHP Jeremy Hellickson Vs Stephen Strasburg
Our Weekend Warrior Ali Van Norden will bring you a recap of the series on Sunday in her own inimitable style.
I will be at the ballpark on Monday night in my perch up in sec 423 for the first of my 17 game plan outings, and will be sure to be tweeting away.
On another sports note, I will be in the Press Box once again for PattisonAve.com covering the Philadelphia Union hosting the Portland Timbers in an inter-conference MLS tilt.
Go You Boys In Blue and Let’s Go Phils!