It’s always amazing how you can almost know what is coming in the future. The Phillies had the bases loaded last night in the top of the first inning with two outs. Thanks to two walks and a man reaching on an error, Gio Gonzalez was on the precipice of allowing a big inning to begin the game. Up to the plate stepped Maikel Franco, who harmlessly grounded out to end the threat.
From that moment on, you just knew that the game was over. The Phillies haven’t had much success against Washington lately. With the Nationals becoming the division’s superpower and the Phillies entering a rebuilding malaise, there were times when watching the games became more chore than enjoyable activity. That first inning and the missed opportunity it presented stung. It almost felt inevitable that the team would lose.
Then Bryce Harper came to the plate and made sure that premonition came true. Since complaining of not getting any pitches to hit and subsequently being moved to the leadoff spot, Harper has gotten hot. Tonight, he’d hit his 3rd leadoff home run in 4 games since being moved to the top of lineup. Starter Nick Pivetta didn’t get much better from there, allowing 3 runs in the first, two more in the second on another Harper home run before being lifted from the game. It was Pivetta’s second straight shaky start after reeling off five good ones to start the season. Hopefully he’s able to get back on track in his next game next week.
The rest of the game was just a blah game, feeling more like an exercise just to avoid going to bed rather than enjoying watching a game. If you want some silver lining, there was at least one highlight in the game. Carlos Santana went 2 for 4 with a double and a home run. After a lot of (deserved) hand wringing over his start to the season, Santana seems to be snapping out of it a bit, depending on your definition of “snapping out of it.” He’s 10 for his last 49, which includes five doubles and a homerun. In that timeframe, he’s walking more than he is striking out, so he’s still seeing the ball well. I know hitting barely above .200 doesn’t seem like much, but remember: on April 18, Santana was hitting .131/.253/.279. Since then, he has brought it up to .164/.301/.318. It’s the small victories, people. Hopefully a few more hard hit balls drop along the way to keep that line moving upward.
The two teams are back at it this afternoon, with Vince Velasquez taking on Tanner Roark. It’s a 4:05 start, so don’t forget.