After lighting the World Baseball Classic on fire, expectations were high for the Phillies’ biggest offseason prize. Smashing five home runs in seven games for Team USA on an international stage will do that just as much as - or possibly more so than - signing an 11-year, $300 million contract just months earlier. Our dreams ran wild with what Trea Turner could be once he put on a Phillies uniform.
The early returns have been pretty good. He’s looked the part so far, slashing .303/.361/.743 and contributing three steals in the team’s first 18 games. He’s also second among major league shortstops in UZR, showing his competence at fielding his position. Interestingly enough, the one thing that has been lacking is what he teased us all with back in March.
Turner came into Wednesday’s rubber match against the White Sox with exactly zero home runs.
Trea ended his drought in the first inning by smacking a liner over the left field wall for his first Phillies dinger, giving starter Taijuan Walker a 1-0 lead before he even toed the rubber.
THERE. IT. IS.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 19, 2023
TREA TURNER'S FIRST HOMERUN AS A PHILLIE. pic.twitter.com/5u6H877Zg0
Walker, for his part, started the day a little shaky. After allowing a one-out double to Luis Robert, Andrew Vaughn copied Turner’s homework, hitting his first of the year to just about the same spot that Trea did in the top of the frame. 2-1 Sox.
Andrew Vaughn gets his first of the year— Sox On 35th (@SoxOn35th) April 19, 2023
Brandon Marsh answered in the top of the second by hitting an opposite-field shot to draw the score even at 2. Marsh has possibly been the Phillies’ best position player so far this season, currently sitting at second in MLB with a .759 slugging percentage. He has proven that he can be this team’s everyday center fielder and hit in the middle of the lineup. He’s 5 for 15 against lefties with a homer and four doubles – yes, only extra bases in the face of what has been a weakness for him thus far in his career.
In his next at-bat, Turner reached in the top of the third with a one-out single, stole second, and reached third on a Kyle Schwarber groundout before Nick Castellanos drove him in with a single to left. Sox starter Mike Clevinger would make it through the inning before being replaced by Tanner Banks in the fourth.
Banks proceeded to give up two more runs, the first coming after hitting Josh Harrison in the ankle with a slider to set up Bryson Stott to drive Harrison home with a double. Turner would, in turn, smack another double, scoring Stott and bringing himself within a triple of his fourth career cycle.
Walker cruised through the next two innings, getting six outs on 16 pitches before being lifted in the seventh for Gregory Soto. Taijuan had a solid 6 ⅓ innings, giving up two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Soto gave way to Craig Kimbrel who set up Jose Alvarado for his second save of the year.
Next up for the Phillies: a four-game set at home against the Rockies. Hopefully, they can carry some momentum back to the Bank and beat up on a lowly 5-14 Colorado team and earn more than the split they drew against the Reds over the weekend.