After the weekend series win, over the Minnesota Twins, it was time to ramp up the Bryce Harper Mania again, as the Philadelphia Phillies (6-2, 1st Place NL East) “welcomed” the Washington Nationals (4-4, 4th Place) for a three game set.
It turned out that Harper, except for one defensive play on Monday, and two plays on Tuesday – more on that later – was not much of a story this series. That became the pitching, or lack thereof, the last two games, which led to a series loss.
Game 1: Cesar Sits, Kingery Plays
For the first time this season, Phillies Manager Gabe Kapler rested a player besides his catcher. That first guy would be 2B Cesar Hernandez, with the versatile Scott Kingery getting the nod. Cesar has started the season slowly, 25AB, 4H, 4R, 0HR, 3RBI, 2BB, and the telling stat 3K for a guy that does not strike out much. That all leads to a .160, .214, .280 slash. It is time for a rest and the Phillies have a lot invested in Kingery, and look to use him often as the off-days dwindle away, as he can play all the IF positions, and has shown some power.
The Nationals got on the board first as Vince Velasquez, (0-0, 3.00 ERA ) getting his first start of the season, hung a slider to Kurt Suzuki (1) for a two run laser to LF in the 2nd.
RHP Anibal Sanchez (0-1, 6.52) would get the SDI, despite a one out IF single by @ScottyJetp4x, as the Phils were swinging at a lot of first pitches against him.
A bad decision and a very good relay play, Harper to Jean Segura to J.T. Realmuto, bailed out Velasquez in the top of the 4th. It was the second outfield assist for Harper. who only had three last season.
The Phils plan seemed to be to swing early against Sanchez, and it worked the next inning when after a one out single by Realmuto off the first pitch, Odubel Herrera did just a bit better as the next pitch went yard to RCF.
It was his first of the season to tie the game at 2.
Velasquez would put up an 8 P SDI, helped by two good defensive plays on hard ground balls by him and Rhys Hoskins, and his night would be done. 5In, 4H. 2R – both earned – 0BB, 2K, 1HR, 80P – 49 for strikes for the ND. Still a high pitch count, but no walks had to be very encouraging.
Hoskins would untie the game with his 25th career go ahead HR, on yet another 3-2 count in the 6th. Rhys would add a much needed insurance HR in the 8th. They were his fourth and fifth of the season.
That was because after the rest of the pen held them scoreless, Pat Neshek (S,1) gave up a solo HR, but did not give up another run for his 14th career save.
Kingery made the most out of his start as he had three H. Segura, Hoskins, and Herrera, would join the multi-hit parade with two each.
it was the second straight game without a BB by the hurlers, which had not happened since July 2016.
The Nationals starter Sanchez would only last 5.2 In, 7H, 3R – all earned – 2BB, 6K, 2HR, 83P – 52 for strikes, in the loss.
Game 2: Nola, the Pen, and the D blow a big lead.
It was billed as the battle of the #1s as Aaron Nola (1-0, 6.46) faced off against RHP Stephen Strasburg ( 1-0, 5.40)
Aaron would give up another first inning run on a Texas League 2B to start the inning that Harper probably should have caught, and then two long fly balls. But then he would settle down into a more Nola like groove for the next five innings.
In the 3rd, Harper would make up for his earlier misplay with this 3R Rainbow to LCF (4).
Following a Nola 1-1-2-3 SDI, the Phils would tack on two more in the 4th on a 2 RBI 3B by Segura.
The way Nola was pitching, it looked like this could be a fairly easy W at 6-1 through five.
Phillie killer Anthony Rendon would have something to say about that.
He started with an RBI 2B (6) in the sixth.
In the 7th, the Nats chased Nola with only one out. A 2R HR (1) by Yan Gomes came after a throwing E by Maikel Franco. Then after that one out, the ageless PH Howie Kendrick hit his first HR of the season to make this a nail-biting 6-5 game.
Those nails were just about gone, and a finger too, when with two outs, and two strikes, a Victor Robles HR (3) off of Edubray Ramos (BS,1) would tie it up.
So now both starters would end up with an ND.
Nola, 6.1In, 7H,5R – 4 earned -1BB, 3K, 2HR, 99P – 69 for strikes.
Strasburg, 4In, 6H, 6R- all earned – 4BB, 3K, 2HR, 83P – 49 for strikes.
The Phillies would put two on in the 9th, on a lead-off single, and a two out BB, but could not walk it off.
Washington would then score four times in the 10th and it was all over at 10-6, Natinals.
FTR: Dominguez (2) and Neris (2) would each get an H. Jose Alvarez (0-1, 20.25), one of the more disappointing off-season acquisitions, gave up the 4R for the L. A rock in the Nats pen so far Sean Doolittle (3-0, 0.00) earned the W.
Game 3:Blow Out Loss Ends Homestand
Not sure there is much more to say about this game except that the Nationals scored a *&^&*load of runs, and the Phillies could only scratch out one. To illustrate how bad a night it was on both sides of the diamond, that lone Phils run was not until the 9th inning and came on 3BB and a GO.
Meanwhile the gNats put up crooked numbers in the 1st (3), 4th (4), 5th (2), and 7th (5), and for good measure, one in the 9th – off of RHP – er – OF Aaron Altherr (one FB notched a 90.5 on the radar gun) – for the embarrassing 15-1 Final . 7 of those runs were charged to Nick Pivetta (1-1, 9.45). He only lasted 3.2In, 7H, 3BB, 6K, 0HR in the loss.
“This game’s going to beat the [stuff] out of you,” Pivetta said. “You just have to bounce back. I have another start in five days. I’m going to go in there and do a lot better than I did today.”
Nats RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1-0, 2.25) was good enough through 6 innings to hold the Phils off the board on 3H, 4BB, 6K, 100P- 60 for strikes, for the win.
The Phillies only had 3 H, and made 2E, to add to the miserable night all around.
We already knew Hoskins was good, and it is pretty apparent that having Harper ahead of him has helped, but these tweets from Mondays win, are just crazy.
Another go-ahead HR for Hoskins. Phillies lead the Nationals 3-2 in the 6th.
That's now Hoskins' 25th homer since the start of the 2018 season that tied the game or gave the Phillies the lead. Only Khris Davis (27) has done that more times in that span.
Another guy who has been really good this season is Adam Morgan. After one inning on Monday, 6 G, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 17 BF, 60 pitches. This is a huge turn-around for a guy who was a phan whipping boy his first few seasons.
Gabe Kapler commented on the team’s exuberant handshake celebrations: “We love it. I think its incredible. I think baseball needs more emotion. It becomes personalized. It becomes that much more of a connection moment. Our celebrations are with each other. It’s never a demonstration against our opponent.”
This first losing streak and series loss will be a very good test of this young team to see if the “chemistry” is real or contrived. It’s easy to have fun with these celies, and play loose when you are winning. How they handle the losing in this failure sport, will tell us how good this team can be.
Also playing in front of the sure to be much smaller crowds in Miami than they have seen this season, is a different animal.
“This weekend is a little bit of a trap series and I think we really need to keep our level of focus,” Phillies GM Matt Klentak said on Thursday.
Lastly on Thursday what became the worst kept secret of the day broke on the interwebs that it will be officially announced on Tuesday, that Philadelphia will be hosting the MLB All Star Game in 2026.
The Phillies posted the below, but many beat writers were already citing sources that this was what would be announced.
We have a major announcement to make on Tuesday, April 16 at 2 p.m. 👀
Some writers have postulated that this is being announced so early because Philadelphia is trying to convince all major pro sports to have their ASG’s here in 2026 for the USA‘s 250th Birthday, much like we did in 1976. The city is pushing for a Soccer World Cup round here that year as well.
The Phillies (7-4, 2nd Place NL East) go back on the road for their first visit to Realmuto’s old team the Miami Marlins (3-10, Last Place). They then come back to town for three with the New York Mets, before going on their first multi team road trip starting with the Colorado Rockies.
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.