In the wrap-up game of their first series of the season, the Phillies dropped a tight one to yield the three-game sweep to the Rangers in front of a national TV audience on Sunday Night Baseball.
After allowing 27 runs in their first two games, the pitching rebounded in a big way. Bailey Falter conceded the two Rangers’ runs and was tagged with the L, but he arguably outdueled his counterpart, Rangers’ lefty Martín Pérez who allowed only one run. Aside from a solo shot off the bat of Josh Jung in the second inning, Falter was economical and accurate with his pitches, landing 49/72 (68%) for strikes.
It was a frustrating day at the plate for the lineup. Though they worked Perez for 98 pitches and three walks, they were not able to cash in on the majority of their baserunning opportunities. There were several standout defensive plays by the Rangers, notably a couple of catches by Adolis Garcia that likely robbed Kyle Schwarber and Alec Bohm of extra bases. Schwarber hit one to deep right center in the top of the fifth inning that Garcia tracked to the wall. He was able to single in his next AB to collect his first hit of the season in his 13th trip to the plate.
The Phillies’ lone run came in the fourth inning. Nick Castellanos worked a leadoff walk off Perez, advanced to second on a balk and got to third on a Bohm single and was brought back home on a Josh Harrison ground-out double play to third.
Marcus Semien led off the game with a line single to left and was gunned down by JT Realmuto trying to take second. It was the only attempted steal of the game, below the new normal that this season’s rule changes have ushered in.
There were a couple savvy employments of said rules on the part of the Rangers when they were on defense. Trea Turner led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and appeared to have an easy steal later in the inning, only to be called back on a late time-out call by Rangers’ catcher, Jonah Heim. Because the time-out was called with less than eight seconds left on the pitch clock, Perez was charged with one of his “disengagements” for the current AB. The replay seemed to show that Heim’s time-out call was simultaneous with Turner’s jump toward second, so kind of a moral gray area whether that’s a misuse or a clever application of the rule.
Rangers’ reliever Will Smith also had a moment in the ninth inning where, with the pitch clock close to expiring, he motioned to the umpire that his PitchCom wasn’t working properly, only to have it miraculously start working again seconds after he was given a time-out. Still a lot of kinks to work out with this stuff.
Kind of a mixed bag with the Phillies’ defensively, but overall they were solid enough. In the sixth inning, Turner and Harrison, playing left field, had a miscommunication on a Corey Seager pop up that dropped in between them. On the next pitch, Bryson Stott had a really nice play to chase down a grounder in the right field hole and make a quick throw to first to rob Nathaniel Lowe of a single.
Bryson Stott Defensive Gem pic.twitter.com/IjuMmcIQ0I— Justin Lever ❤️⚾️ (@JustinLever3) April 3, 2023
Alec Bohm manned first base for the first time this season as Darick Hall sat against the left-handed starter. He seemed comfortable enough, though everything was fairly routine.
Christian Pache made his Phillies debut and looked as advertised. He made a great catch on a fly ball close to the warning track, but was pretty feeble at the plate.
Harrison and Pache subbing for Hall and Marsh seems to be the current strategy for facing a lefthander, which the Phillies will get another shot at tomorrow as they face Nestor Cortes and the Yankees in the first of three games in the Bronx. Taijuan Walker is slated to make his Phillies debut and will look to build on a strong spring and World Baseball Classic performance.
On a positive note, Gregory Soto rebounded from an opening day to forget with a shutdown eighth inning, recording the first two outs via some nasty sliders that Semien and Seager couldn’t touch. Onwards and upwards?