Interim manager Rob Thomson handed the Phillies lineup card to the home plate umpire on Tuesday. It read: Schwarber, Hoskins, Castellanos, Realmuto. Stop right there. The question lingered in Phillies fans’ heads. Where is Bryce Harper batting? There’s no chance that the two time MVP would hit any lower then cleanup during a given game.
After a loss to the Nats on Sunday’s matinee game, the well-rested Phillies arrived at Globe Life Field on Tuesday, for a two-game series vs. the Texas Rangers. The last time the teams faced each other in May, the Rangers swept the Phils in three games. Since then, the Phillies have made changes to their management, which has highly affected their performance for the better over the last month. Nevertheless, their best hitter in Harper, remained out of the lineup, due to an infected blister on his left hand.
It was a pitchers’ duel heading into the fifth, as both starters were dealing. Phils starter and former Ranger, Kyle Gibson allowed only two hits and struck out four through 4.2 innings. Unfortunately, the Rangers took the lead in the fifth, hitting back to back homers off of Gibson. The long ball carried last night for the Rangers, as they hit four homers in their 7-0 win.
The Phillies struggled offensively, as they were 0-9 with runners in scoring position. Multiple at-bats were unproductive, as they fell behind in counts, and failed to advance runners on base. The Rangers had some help from their defense, as Kole Calhoun made a fantastic diving catch in left-field, robbing Matt Vierling from a hit and potential RBI. Home plate umpire Charlie Ramos also widened the strike zone for the Rangers a few times, which did not help the Phillies chances.
What’s up with the Phillies streaky offense you ask? Is it because Harper is out of the lineup? If you look at the statistics, the answer is yes, possibly. The team is 4-6 when Harper is not in the lineup. However, personally, I do not believe that one particular player can carry the entire team’s offense. Yes, Harper’s spirited energy and vast experience can definitely affect the team’s momentum, but the bats should not fall quiet without him. Their lineup is full of completely capable hitters, with numbers to prove it.
Moving forward, the team needs to put their skills together and build off of each other’s at-bats. For example, if Rhys Hoskins draws a walk to start off an inning, the following batter needs to find a way to get him in a better scoring position. No matter the approach the next batter takes, it is vital that the Phils find a way to score runs and build trust in each player’s ability.
Of course, everyone loves when Harper is in the lineup, because he is simply just fun to watch. In the words of Tom McCarthy, “He’s like a kid playing in a little league game.”
Currently, the reigning MVP is in the lead for starting DH for the National League in the 2022 Allstar Game. Number three leads with 1,059,433 votes. He is batting .326 with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs.
According to MLB.com, “Fans can fill out a 2022 Chevrolet MLB All-Star Ballot as many as five times per every 24-hour period until Phase 1 of voting closes at 2 p.m. ET on June 30. You can vote exclusively at MLB.com, on all 30 MLB club sites and on the MLB app.”
Harper will start in Wednesday’s series finale vs the Rangers. The Phillies will have Zach Wheeler on the mound, and can hopefully provide some run support for their ace. Let’s smash the bell Phillies!