Coming into today, the Phillies were looking at a season opening sweep against the prohibitive favorite in the NL East. Staring down the barrel of a gauntlet of a schedule, getting off to a hot start would have been ideal. It doesn’t get hotter than sweeping the first three games, which is what the Phillies did on Sunday by downing the Braves, 2-1.
Another pitching duel shaped up between the two teams, this time the young starters Zach Eflin and Ian Anderson took center stage. The Phillies tried to get on the board early by getting a walk from Bryce Harper and a single from Alec Bohm with two outs in the first, but Didi Gregorius struck out, ending an early threat. The Braves got a man on in the second, but after that, something with Eflin clicked and set himself on cruise control through six innings.
Andrew Knapp opened the scoring in the bottom of the second by shockingly becoming the first Phillie to hit a home run this year.
Andrew Knapp is your Phillies home run leader. 1-0 good guys. pic.twitter.com/Bth2t995iw— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 4, 2021
For taking a lot of nonsense over the years, Knapp has settled into the perfect #2 catcher behind J.T. Realmuto.
As previously stated, Efling kept the string of dominant Phillies pitching to open the season alive, going seven strong innings, only getting threatened twice in the game. The first real time that he needed to sweat was in the third when Anderson, the pitcher, led off with a double. He was followed by Ronald Acuna, who hit a laser beam right at Jean Segura, who happened to be stationed about seven feet away from second base, making the double play easy and ending the threat.
In the seventh, Travis d’Arnaud took a mistake from Eflin and did exactly what he should have done with it, making a deposit in the left field stands to tie the game up.
The Phillies being the Phillies wouldn’t go quietly into the night. In the eighth inning, Rhys Hoskins and Harper hit back to back one out singles, bringing up Bohm yet again. And as he has seemingly since he arrived in Philadelphia, Bohm came through again in the clutch.
Was it a bad pitch? Yes. Did Bohm do what good hitters do with bad pitches? Yes.
That brought the game to the ninth where Hector Neris was brought in again to try and lock it down. Neris being Neris decided to make the team sweat. Leading off the inning was Acuna who promptly ran the count to 3-2 before taking this pitch for a “strike.”
This was* called strike 3 to Acuna Jr.— Sharp™️ (@SharpSportsINC) April 4, 2021
Completely different complexion of the inning with a lead off walk
Not even close to strike 3. That’s what you call HOME COOKIN pic.twitter.com/a3QuYyBcfL
As you can see, Braves fans were....less than thrilled with the call, but it’s not as though the home plate umpire didn’t struggle all day long for both sides. Ozzie Albies hit a drive to the wall that cause some hearts to drop, but it nestled easily into the glove of Harper for out number two. Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna walked, prompting a mound visit from Caleb Cotham to calm down the clearly tired Neris. Whatever he said worked as Neris induced a fly ball from d’Arnaud that ended the threat and the game with the Phillies victorious.
The Mets come to town next, having not even started their season yet. Tomorrow night’s matchup will see Matt Moore opening his season against Jacob deGrom.