“There is a deep fly ball to right field, going, going, gone! Kyle Schwarber gives the Phillies a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with his first home run as a Phillie.”
The fans felt that this would happen on Opening Day for the Phillies. Kyle Schwarber said in interviews that he “Couldn’t write it any better.”
The Philadelphia Phillies looked great in many respects; however, it is still early, and the team is still making mistakes.
The Phillies offensively scored nine runs but also yielded five to a scrappy Oakland Athletics team that should not have gotten that many off of them.
- LF Schwarber [2/4, 1BB, 1HR, 2RBI]
- C Realmuto [1/4, 1BB, 1R]
- RF Harper [1/4, 1BB, 1RBI, 2R]
- DH Castellanos [1/4, 1RBI, 3SO]
- 1B Hoskins [2/3, 2RBI, 2R, 1BB, 1SO]
- SS Gregorius [1/4, 1RBI, 1SO]
- 2B Segura [1/3, 1BB, 1R, 1SO]
- 3B Stott [2/4, 1RBI, 1R, 1SO]
- CF Vierling [0/3, 1RBI, 1SO]
The Phillies lineup was clicking and feasted off even some of the A’s best pitchers like Frankie Montas. In fact, the Phillies scored a run on every pitcher the Athletics put on the mound. Everyone in the Phillies lineup got a hit or knocked in a run on Opening Day.
Top of Lineup
They proved as much as any lineup that they are deep and dangerous and can strike by stringing together small ball hits and #smashthebell too. Kyle Schwarber smacked a solo home run in the first and drove in Bryson Stott in the eight to pile on to their onslaught.
J.T. Realmuto did a great job positioning himself in scoring positions for Bryce Harper to knock him in. Harper and Relamuto played the small game beautifully for the Phils, and it really was a team win.
Middle of the Order
Nick Castellanos was close to getting a golden sombrero on Opening Day but avoided it with an RBI double in the 7th, but got tagged out at third by his greedy baserunning. Not the worst quality to be aggressive on the base path, but it needs to be smart. The Phillies had to deal with poor baserunning with Odubel Herrera (well, still might) and Roman Quinn in the past. Hopefully, it will not be too much of an issue.
The Phillies’ five-hole hitter, Rhys Hoskins, had a 2/3-day with two RBIs and contributed to the Phillies’ win. Due to Kevin Long’s influence on this team, Hoskins seems to be making better at-bats than his past couple of seasons and progressing well like the rest of the lineup.
Didi Gregorius and Jean Segura did not disappoint in their hitting or defense. Both performed well up the middle, got on base, and scored runs. With a healthy Didi, this team will defensively and offensively be able to succeed. The Phillies have plenty of depth in the infield and outfield positions, but it is comforting to know that the starters are contributing.
The rookie evaluations are in, and Bryson Stott had a two-hit 1 RBI game in his MLB debut! Stott is everything the Phillies needed and wanted out of their farm system from his Fall League and Spring Training performances, and he is proving he can do it all. This first month with expanded rosters will be very advantageous for him and the younger guys to find their places.
Matt Vierling took over the helm of centerfield for former 2016 first-round pick Mickey Moniak, who fractured his hand during the last Spring Training game. Although Phillies Phans would have loved to see Moniak in the 9-hole and playing in center, they plugged in their platoon guy in Vierling.
Vierling did go 0/3, but he knocked in a sac-fly run, hit the ball in the field to move runners, and flashed good contact. Vierling will progress well and fill the role he initially projected to have before Moniak came to the scene.
The main concerns analysts, phans, and people who love baseball all share about the Phillies are their lack of defensive players. Rhys Hoskins made an error where he missed Bryson Stott’s throw to first. Hoskin’s fielding errors need to be remedied with extra practice because something has got to give.
Stott is showing he is adept in the infield and able to knock down balls, just like in the game yesterday, where he got a lot of fielding practice. Bryson will be fine in any fielding position, but Rhys Hoskins has to step up or step into the DH role somehow. As a first baseman, he needs to scoop the ball and make the stretches to get those outs, and he cannot be afraid of getting hurt.
If the Phillies expect to make the postseason, Hoskins needs to elevate his first base game. To tell the truth: the Phillies’ defense will not be as bad as people think. The Phillies pitchers get hitters to pop up and hit ground balls pretty well. Thus, the fielders can make routine plays to prevent runners and hits.
- SP Nola [6IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 7SO, 6.00 ERA]
- RP Familia [0.2IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, 1SO, 0.00 ERA]
- RP Hand [0.1IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1SO, 0.00 ERA]
- RP Dominguez [1.0IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0.00 ERA]
- CP Knebel [1.0IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 2SO, 0.00 ERA]
Most MLB managers probably would have made Joe Girardi’s decision, judging from how well Aaron Nola was pitching. Nola had only given up a solo home run to Chad Pinder in six innings; why not stretch him a little into the 7th inning, especially when his pitch count was low.
Wrong! Nola had only pitched 50-60 pitches in Spring Training and was not ready to keep throwing when he gave up two hits and a Seth Brown homer, which made the game go from 6-1 to 6-5.
Girardi’s pitching decision did not go well and could have cost them the game. Luckily, the off-season moves for the bullpen paid off in Spring Training and continued into the regular season to see Jeurys Familia, Brad Hand, Seranthony Dominguez, and Corey Knebel all pitch well and prevented any more runs.
The bullpen shutting down the A’s lineup shows the changes Dave Dombrowski made to be the right ones. Seranthony Dominguez’s return and having a quick 1-2-3 inning brought Phillies Phans back to his pitching success before he got hurt.
The Phillies bullpen is and will continue to be much better with these players in the late-game relief.
The Philadelphia Phillies are a great team. They have the offense and defense to win the NL East over the injury-prone Mets, the cellar-dweller Nationals, the young but lacking power Marlins, and the replacement version Braves.
Realistically, this season will not be perfect, and all 30 teams will face adversity, just like the Phillies faced in this first game.
The hope is that the Phillies can learn from their mistakes and make it to October baseball for the first time in 11 years.
Featured Image: AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson