Yesterday afternoon, the Phillies opened their season at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas to take on the Rangers. The first three innings could not have opened any better with the Phils tagging Jacob deGrom for five runs on six hits––all for extra bases. Then the Rangers closed the roof to stop the rain––literally and figuratively.
After struggling with command in the first inning, Aaron Nola seemed to be settling in. Then, Corey Seager opened the bottom half of the fourth inning with a ten pitch at-bat resulting in the Rangers’ first hit of the game. Before long, the inning began to unravel with Nola showing signs of fatigue. The Phils’ ace fell behind four of the next six hitters he faced, allowing a two-run double to catcher Jonah Heim and a three-run homer to outfielder Robbie Grossman.
With two outs in the fourth, Rob Thomson pulled the plug on Nola’s outing and went to newcomer Gregory Soto to finish the inning. The lefty flamethrower, though, did not record an out. After two walks and a couple softly hit base knocks, Soto handed the Rangers the lead while Connor Brogdon allowed extra insurance. Needless to say, the nine run fourth inning for the Rangers was disastrous for the Phillies.
On the bright side, that half inning could be the worst of the Phillies 2023 season. crosses fingers
While no one specifically put blame on the newly implemented pitch clock, it is likely the timer played a role in Nola, Soto, and Brogdon’s incapability to settle down with momentum swinging the Rangers way. After the game, when asked if he felt the clock, Nola told reporters, “A little bit. It’s something I have to get used to. Keep trying to figure out how to slow it down.”
This is the new reality for pitchers in 2023. Everyone will go through their own fair share of struggles trying to limit momentum. Any pitcher will tell you the focus and execution of each pitch is of utmost importance––now, even more so. When runners get on, pitchers will have to lock in more than they have before, exerting more energy to make their best pitch to stop the bleeding. This year, we may decipher who truly is an ace––the guy who isn’t fazed by the moment and is capable of executing their pitch when the game matters most.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t all bad in the season opener.
Alec Bohm showcased his added muscle with a two-run home run in his first at-bat of the season off a deGrom 99.3 mph fastball. He would add a double en route to a 3-4, three RBI day.
Brandon Marsh and Trea Turner also proved their speed, hitting back-to-back triples in the third. Marsh finished the day 2-4 with a couple extra base hits and Turner ended his Phils debut 1-4.
JT Realmuto and Jake Cave also swung the bat well in their season debuts. Realmuto had three hits including a double and triple while Cave, though he had nothing to show for it, put two great swings on the ball. The 30-year-old journeyman hit two balls over 100 mph with his final swing of the day ending in a home run robbery by Rangers center fielder Bubba Thompson.
The Phillies, like most teams around the league, are off today. They will resume play tomorrow afternoon in Arlington with Zack Wheeler taking the hill against new Ranger Nathan Eovaldi. First pitch is slated for 4:05pm EST and will be nationally broadcasted on FOX.
It’s a long season. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Just Game 1 of 162. The season didn’t start the way we had hoped, but the Phils will be fine. Baseball is back.
Photo: Yong Kim/Philadelphia Inquirer