Beautiful spring days are made for baseball. After a rainy few days in Philadelphia, the sun was shining on Citizens Bank Park as the Phillies opened their season against the Athletics. It’s a season where they are trying to defy the logic of team building relying more on a potent offense than an airtight defense to try and make a playoff run.
It was all on display today.
Aaron Nola got the start on the bump, cruising through the first inning before the Phillies’ offense began to flex its muscle. Kyle Schwarber was leading off the inning for the team and he got 2022 started with style.
That’s how you introduce yourself to the hometown crowd.
It’s pretty textbook for Schwarber, leading off with a dinger, something he’s getting pretty adept at doing. The rest of the offense would catch up with him in the third inning, an inning Schwarber started off in a very 2022 way. He would get a one out walk, then go to third on a single by J.T. Realmuto. Bryce Harper followed with a hustle double, scoring Schwarber and sending Realmuto to third, making it 2-0.
Nick Castellanos struck out for the second out, but Rhys Hoskins demonstrated some solid hitting by going the other way for a single that scored both Realmuto and Harper and put the Phillies up, 4-0.
Didi Gregorius began his 2022 season with an RBI single to center field and the Phillies had a 5-0 lead. Another run in the sixth gave the Phillies a 6-1 lead, one that felt safe since in the midst of all this offensive goodness, Nola just kept cruising through the Oakland lineup. He allowed that lone run to the Athletics on a home run to Chad Pinder in the fourth inning, but that was it through six innings. He was simply dominating the A’s into that unfortunate seventh inning when, in an almost carbon copy of his outings last year, he simply ran out of gas too fast for the team to get someone ready behind him and nearly gave up the lead. A double and single by the A’s put runners on second and third before you could blink, then Seth Brown took a bad pitch from Nola and did what he’s supposed to do.
Seth Brown (1) gets the Athletics closer. pic.twitter.com/s64BJps7hA— Slasher Sports (@SlasherSports) April 8, 2022
That made it 6-4, Phillies, and ended Nola’s day, his giving way to Jeurys Familia and the rest of the bullpen to bring it home. All in all, a solid start for Nola, but also something that looked a little too familiar.
As we were watching, there was still a voice in our heads, something about a part of the team that would really hurt them in close games...
What was it again?
Ah yes. The defense.
Bryson Stott found out that the ball always finds you in your first MLB game when, on the first batter for Familia, he made a bad (but still playable) throw to first that Hoskins couldn’t handle, giving them another baserunner without an out. Familia would strike out the next batter, but the next batter after that would ground into what should have been a double play that should have ended the inning, but saw another runner reach thanks to another bad throw. Christian Pache reached on an infield single, ending Familia’s day and bringing in Brad Hand. He got another groundball that was again muffed by Stott, allowing the A’s to get another run and be within one. Hand would strike out Jed Lowrie to end the inning, but the defense we were all afraid of was on display and the lead was a much less comfortable 6-5.
Luckily for the Phillies, their offense is more than capable of getting runs back quickly and that’s what they did in their half of the seventh. Harper would walk with one out, then score on a Castellanos double that made it 7-5 (he was thrown out at third trying to make it to third on the throw), but an insurance run was had. Seranthony Dominguez, finally healthy, had an excellent 1-2-3 eighth inning, bringing the Phillies up again for more insurance runs.
Jean Segura got the party started in the home half of the eighth with a double, then scored on Stott’s first RBI on a double down the left field line.
Bryson Stott with a RBI double to give the Phillies a 8-5 lead! pic.twitter.com/5TQR9Wf6w4— Philly Nation (@Philly__Nation) April 8, 2022
Schwarber would knock in Stott with an RBI single, making it 9-5 and effectively icing the game. Corey Knebel would come in and lock down the ninth, giving the Phillies an Opening Day victory that was a little nerve wracking, but still very welcome.
Everything we had heard about the Phillies was out in force today.
- The offense was solid, top to bottom
- The defense struggled when it really mattered, allowing the opponent back into a game they didn’t have any business getting back into
- Aaron Nola was great for the first part of his start, then made one or two bad pitches at the worst possible times
- The bullpen did its job, for the most part, getting groundballs and strikeouts when needed
Even with the miscues, this was a good start to the season.
The march to 100 wins begins....