The Bryce Harper Hype continued unabated, as the Philadelphia Phillies (3-0) new OF went back to DC to face the Washington Nationals (1-2), where he had played 927 games.
In the end the seesaw series split had something for both team’s fans, including another mammoth Harper HR in game one, and some epic phails by the visitors in game two.
Game 1: Harper Gives Both Sides a Chance to Boo and Cheer
The first inning alone, delayed 41 minutes by inclement weather, had something for everyone, including the estimated over 500 Phillies Phans camped out in RF.
Andrew McCutchen started the game with a single, only his fifth H against RHP Max Scherzer (0-2, 2.13), followed by a generously called single by Jean Segura, which set the stage for the anticipated 1st AB by Harper. To the delight of the Nats fans Bryce K’d, which changed the lusty boos to cheers. The Phils would not score.
“I heard the boos,” Harper said. “I kind of just remembered that I had 45,000 people in the city of Philadelphia — and more — that were screaming and yelling at their TVs cheering. I respect them so much. Being able to have them back at home, knowing that they’re cheering and screaming at me through the TVs and also having the huge section in right field really fired me up.
“I was really excited to know that this place was filled with Philadelphia fans.”
“I have the city of Philadelphia behind me each and every night. If I have that then nothing else matters to me.”
They made up for that the next inning when one of the hottest hitters in MLB early this season, Maikel Franco, slammed a Solo HR (3) to RF.
Zach Eflin (1,0, 0.00 ERA) was in control, getting the 3K, all swinging, SDI this inning, and in the 4th as well. That one came after a passed ball on DC C Yan Gomes, allowed Odubel Herrera to score from 3rd to make it 2-0 Phillies.
Eflin would go one more inning, well out-pitching Scherzer in those 5In, 3H, 0R, 1BB, 9K, 85P – 57 for strikes. That 5th inning was his toughest, starting with B2B singles, but he got the next three men out, and Scherzer out of the game as well, 5In, 7H, 2R – one earned – 1BB, 9K, 1HR, 96P – 65 for strikes.
The Phillies would break this open in the 6th inning scoring four times, the hilites being a Jean Segura, 3RBI 2B with 2 outs. That was followed by a Harper single, which not only scored Segura to make the lead 4-0, but sent the RF area into a frenzy with “We Got Harper” chants.
But that would not be the end of their celebrations.
The Phillies are on pace to score 1,255 runs through four games. The all-time record is 1,220 by the 1894 Boston Beaneaters, who had seven players score 100 runs and five drive in 100 runs, but did not have a single player hit 20 home runs.
Sloppy play, four total errors – three on the Phillies who had committed none so far; bad pitching – 14 total walks, seven apiece; and lots of RISP – a combined 8-22, 18 men LOB.
As Whitey Ashburn would say, not a Spaulding Guide ballgame at 7′ short of four hours.
This game is not worth a scoring by scoring play breakdown as there was a ton of it in the 9-8 loss.
Aaron Nola was to put it mildly, terrible, giving up 6 ER, in 3In, 5H, 2BB, 2K, 3HR, 63P – 36 for strikes. Two of those HR came in the first inning, to Phillie killers Anthony Rendon, and Ryan Zimmerman.
Nationals RHP Anibal Sanchez was not much better only going one more inning, 4H, 4R – all earned, 4BB, 3K, 0HR, 76P – 5 for strikes.
On the positive side, for the second game in a row, the Phils made the starter throw over 20 pitches in the first inning. This time they even scored twice. That of course was spoiled though by the aforementioned HRs given up by Nola, which put the Nats up 3-2.
The Nationals would score three times in the 3rd, followed by two runs for the Phils the next frame, to make the Nats lead 6-4. One good thing in the fourth inning rally was a Nick Williams PH RBI. This was notable as it ended an 0-17, 0 BB, 7 K run by pinch hitters and pitchers combined.
The 8th inning was a Manic-Depressive affair as the Phillies made a nice four run comeback, hilited by an Andrew McCutchen 3RBI 2B, after striking out three times previously.
The downward swing came as the bullpen would blow this one, with some help from the defense.
Seranthony Dominguez was hittable, and abetted by a missed catch E by Rhys Hoskins that would have ended the inning after only one run, could not get the job done in the 8th.
The Phils would go down in order in the 9th which would set up an almost fitting end for this tough to watch game.
To keep it simple, new Phillie, but veteran reliever RHP David Robertson, who was billed at being very good in high leverage situations went:
Single, BB, BB, BB and the game came to a thudding end. All that on 19P – only 6 for strikes.
This game featured 12P. and 2 BS, Dominguez, and Kyle Barraclough each their first.
Robertson would well earn the L (0-1, 18.00) and Sean Doolittle the W (2-0, 0.00)
The players certainly let their feelings show after the game, which they feel they should have won.
On the E that let the Nats tie the game:
“Have to catch it,” Hoskins said. “I missed it. It never feels good leaving a city knowing that you could’ve had one more.”
“I’m pitching like crap,” Robertson said, “I’ve been sucking out there, that’s for sure. I throw it over the plate, it gets hit. Not throwing strikes, walking guys, putting guys on, giving them every chance to score runs. Tired of doing bad out there.
“It’s probably three of the worst outings I’ve ever put together. Fortunately, we won the last two games, but I’m pretty hard on myself, and if I keep going out there and pitching like crap, I’ll have to figure something out.”
It is hard with all the expectations we have after all the off-season moves, and it is certainly harder for certain twitterers for sure:
I took that loss yesterday hard as hell. I take every loss that way. and you've all seen what I do when they win.
I live and die by every game and will continue to do so. just happy this year I'll be doing a lot more living and a lot less dying.
but it is just one game, and I for one will try to keep my usual even keel.
It sure looks like, at least early, this 2019 Phillies team will have to outscore their opponents by a ton just about every night to keep winning games. Hopefully this is a manifestation of the earlier start to the season, and the staff will catch up to the offense.
While they obviously can’t keep it up, Franco (7, 5IBB) and Harper (7, 3IBB) are “on pace” for 227 BB for the season.
Can you say small sample size, boys and girls?
The Phils return home for a weekend Inter League series against the Minnesota Twins (4-1), and then the Nationals come to town next week.
Though I was born a few blocks from what was to be the NY Worlds Fair/Shea Stadium/Forrest Hills Complex, my parents saved me from being a NY fan by moving to Elkins Park in 1955, when I was 6 months old. I have been living and dying w/ Philly sports teams ever since. Now over 60 , I bring an older, but hopefully not stodgy, spin to this blog. By day I am a mild mannered controller/IT guy for a family business, but by night you will either find me @ CBP at least 17 games a season, and most other nights yelling at my tv as if they can hear me. Though I attend many other local sports, my main love has always been baseball, and my focus here is the Phillies, but I am also part of the team covering the Philadelphia Union.