Maybe it wasn’t Gabe Kapler’s fault. Things were supposed to be better now that Mr. Coconut Oil was in San Francisco, and the Phillies had a World Series winning manager in Joe Girardi at the helm. But aside from the presence of Didi Gregorius, and the absence of fans in the stands, the Phillies’ season opening 5-2 loss to the Marlins could have easily taken place in September 2019.
The fact that I predicted this would happen didn’t make it any easier to watch. Failures on the first day of the season always feel worse because its the first impression the team has made on you in months. In 2020, this feeling is amplified because we had to wait even longer, and with a shortened season, each game takes on greater importance.
Aaron Nola made his third straight Opening Day start, and while it wasn’t his greatest performance, he pitched better than his line indicated. He was victimized by Jesus Aguilar’s two-run home run in the sixth inning, but aside from that, there wasn’t that much hard contact against him.
Due to the nature of the season, Nola was never going to pitch especially deep into the game, and when Corey Dickerson doubled immediately after Aguilar’s homer, Girardi made a call to the bullpen. His pitcher of choice: Ramon Rosso.
Rosso was an interesting choice in this situation. The game was still close, so it might not have been the best idea to use a pitcher making his major league debut. Rosso allowed the inherited runner to score thanks to two wild pitches, and then gave up a run of his own.
Rosso wasn’t the only no-name pitcher the Phillies used in the game. He was followed by Reggie McClain, Austin Davis, and Trevor Kelley, prompting many Phillies fans to wonder, “Who the hell are these guys?” Fortunately, the non-Rosso pitchers were able to keep the Marlins off the scoreboard.
However, the Phillies’ offense couldn’t get much going against Marlins’ starter Sandy Alcantara. The Phillies managed just eight base runners, and Gregorius was the only hitter who showed up, going 2-3 including a solo home run.
In the sixth inning, the Phillies were gifted a chance to get back in the game when Marlins center fielder Jonathan Villar dropped a routine fly ball, scoring a run.
The Jonathan Villar error was... pic.twitter.com/8ILN89a4Fo— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) July 25, 2020
The next batter was Scott Kingery, and he hit a shot to left field that just missed being a two-run homer. Instead, it was just a long foul ball, and on the following pitch, Kingery grounded out. Two innings later, the Phillies had two runners aboard with two outs, but J.T. Realmuto also grounded out to end the threat.
As far as managerial debuts go, Girardi’s certainly wasn’t as disastrous as his predecessor’s was. However, if the Phillies have any legitimate hopes of making the playoffs in this shortened season, the rest of Girardi’s season needs to go a lot better than the first game did.