When Ben Franklin invented Philadelphia, he is famously quoted as saying, “As high as I fly this kite with a key attached to it, that is as low as my expectations in this town for the local ball team.” By 2012-18, that phrase had evolved through time, and we were all saying to each other, “The Phillies sure are real bad. Who is that over there? Chad Billingsley? Never mind; take back what I said about them being bad! Just kidding—my initial sentiments were serious, and accurate. I was being sarcastic just then, in an attempt to illustrate the bottomlessness of our woes.”
During this period, the Phillies’ opposition were all very respectful of how dumb they were; coming to town, quietly decimating them, and then moving on. But Jay Bruce, the bench bat the Phillies just acquired in one what is assured to be the first of several key roster moves for the Phillies this season, showed no such respect. Ever since he debuted in the league with the Reds, he has done nothing but kick the Phillies while they’re down, leading to great relief on our end when he was traded out of the division to a west coast American League team. Now, in one of the greatest plot twists in NL East history, he’s back, as a member of the team he’s shown no quarter for years.
Let’s remember those times now.
October 6, 2010: Jay Bruce ruins Roy Halladay’s postseason perfect game
We all know Bruce worked a walk against Doc in game one of the 2010 NLDS, the sole stain on an otherwise flawless performance by Halladay. It balanced out, though, when Bruce let a soft live drive pass through his glove and watched as two runs scored. Also, the Reds lost the series.
August 12, 2012: Jay Bruce emits the sound of missiles priming
The Phillies beat the Reds 12-5, but only because Bruce couldn’t do all the hitting himself. He started the game with an RBI double, walked in his next AB, smacked an RBI single, then singled again in his last AB. The performance went largely unnoticed, given the outcome, but looking back, we can see the origins of a Phillie-killer, lurking in the background, waiting for his chance.
June 9, 2015: Jay Bruce intimidates the Phillies into a three-run home run
By now, the Phillies had learned their lesson: Bruce wasn’t worth the trouble. He hadn’t peaked as far as being a threat goes, but he was menacing enough to be gifted an intentional walk in the bottom of only the third inning, with the Mets up 3-0. Why force a scuffling Zach Eflin to face Bruce, when he could face a totally harmless Todd Frazier—oh. Well, Frazer crushed a three-run home run that Bruce got to watch from first base, giving the Mets a 6-0 lead and an eventual 10-5 win. As the Phillies emptied their bench to throw bodies at the Mets’ pitching staff, Bruce finished the day with an RBI single and a pair of walks.
April 6, 2016: Jay Bruce homers during horrific eight-run inning, then homers again
The first came off Charlie Morton—who used to pitch for the Phillies, remember—and the second was off Brett Oberholtzer in the seventh as part of a three-hit, five-RIB day for Bruce in Cincinnati. You know, part of the reason Bruce may have such good numbers against the Phillies is because they fielded a pitching staff of pre-evolutionized Charlie Morton’s and regular-ass Brett Oberholtzer’s for six or seven years. Yeah.
May 15, 2016: Jay Bruce lets his teammates have this one
It’s interesting that on a day when he went 3-for-3 with a pair of walks, Jay Bruce was at his most harmless against the Phillies. The Reds were getting on base, just not in front of him, so his offense resulted in no runs. He walked to lead off a five-run fourth inning, then scored, but had to sit in the dugout and, we can only assume, foam at the mouth as his teammates circled the bases while Adam Morgan tried to be a starting pitcher.
September 30, 2016: Jay Bruce stomps the Phillies on the way to the postseason
Bruce had seven three-hit games in 2016, and three of them came against the Phillies. He had no more than one against any other team. I went with this one because it was the last day of the season and Citizens Bank Park was full of jubilant Mets fans, who were unaware that their blue and orange jerseys did little more than mark them for death at the hands of the baseball gods. Nevertheless, they beat the Phillies 5-1 on their way to the NL Wild Card Game, which they lost 1-0 to the Giants. But honestly, nothing says “The locker room is already cleaned out and sterilized” like starting Alec Asher and then relieving him with Michael Mariot.
Bruce feasted on the Phillies’ anonymous suckitude, hitting a pair of RBI singles and a home run. Cody Asche struck out looking to end the game, which is pretty much the title of this chapter in Phillies history.
April 10, 2017: Jay Bruce ruins Michael Saunders’ fun day of actually being helpful
The one day the Phillies managed to squeeze an RBI single out of Michael Saunders—against Jacob deGrom no less, who then issued a walk to Cameron Rupp with bases loaded—Bruce had to come through and ruin the anomaly. Saunders was a big old nothing for the Phillies during his brief time in the lineup, but even that unlikely event wasn’t enough to key them to victory. After blindly stumbling into a 2-0 lead against the Mets’ ace with a lineup made up of melted snowmen and dogs and wearing human clothes, the Bruce gleefully halved the lead with a solo shot of Jerad Eickhoff and then broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth with a two-run blast off Joely Rodriguez. Then, and this is really going to blow your socks off, the 2017 Phillies lost.
April 19, 2017: Jay Bruce beats the Phillies pretty much by himself
Sure, he needed base runners to knock in. But Vince Velasquez can, at times, appear to be hosting a party on the bases, and not being conservative with the guest list. He beckoned two Mets on with two outs, at which point Bruce blasted the Phillies early 2-0 lead into oblivion with a three-run shot. The Mets won, 5-4, and Bruce knocked in every run, thanks to a second home run two innings later. This was again, on a day when Michael Saunders had summoned all of his offensive capabilities to plunk an RBI single for the cause—all for nothing.