The big story on Friday night was the return of Bryce Harper to the Phillies’ lineup. Naturally, with him batting fourth, the first three batters reached base. While fans had visions of a “welcome back” grand slam in their head, all Harper could manage was a lousy two-run single.
Bryce Harper is back. pic.twitter.com/Z4XjUVtlbz— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) August 26, 2022
They added two more runs in the inning and then tallied another two in the second. With a six-run lead against the worst offensive team in the National League, the Phillies should have been able to cruise to victory.
And that is pretty much what they did. The offense fell asleep after the second, managing just two hits and no runs over the next five innings against the Pirates bullpen.
That shutdown gave the Pirates an opportunity to get back into the game, and they did so courtesy of the long ball. Bryan Reynolds took Bailey Falter (Six innings, three runs) deep for a two-run shot in the fourth. Rodolfo Castro added a solo homer in the fifth, and Ben Gamel added another against Conor Brogdon in the seventh. (It might be time to get a little concerned about Brogdon.)
The Phillies’ lineup finally woke up in the eighth with Bryson Stott’s RBI single providing an insurance run.
Bryson Stott is something else! pic.twitter.com/8lcbhLdGv6— Brodes Media (@BrodesMedia) August 27, 2022
The Phillies didn’t actually need the run as David Robertson and Brad Hand set the Pirates down in order the final two innings.
It would have been nice if the Phillies sustained their offense all game, and it would have been a better story had Harper’s return featured multiple hits or a home run. But in the end, the MVP is back in the lineup and the Phillies won their fifth straight game. You really can’t ask for more than that.