Home openers are always cool. They bring everyone together for a moment of joy where they can welcome their favorite teams home and cheer them for both this current season, and in the case of the Phillies, shower them with praise for previous season. This was the first time the fans could show their appreciation for the 2022 National League pennant winners, so in front of a sold out crowd, one would hope the Phillies would put on a good show in return.
It started out well as Zack Wheeler retired the Reds in order to start the first, but being opposed by Hunter Greene meant there would be gas.
Lots of gas.
Greene struck out the side of his own in the bottom of the first and things looked a little hairy. It wasn’t just that he struck out Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber and J.T. Realmuto, it was that be basically blew them away. Things looked like it would be tough. Luckily for the Phillies, that was pretty much the only inning where Greene knew where the strike zone was. In the bottom of the second, Greene ran into trouble. Nick Castellanos doubled to start the inning, then went to third with two outs on a line drive to center field. Jake Cave would walk and steal second, then was joined on the bases when Greene then walked Kody Clemens to load the bases. Brandon Marsh stepped to the plate and leaned into Greene’s lack of control, walking as well, bringing Castellanos home and giving the team a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately, the struggles the team has had this season with runners on base continued today as that 1-0 lead lasted into the sixth inning even though the Phillies had a chance to grab more runs in the third inning that saw Realmuto and Castellanos on second and third with one out, but unable to score. The Reds made the team pay when they drew blood on Wheeler thanks to a double by Spencer Steer, a walk to Will Benson and a single by Jose Barrero.
Jose Barrero with an RBI up the middle and he ties it up! pic.twitter.com/VsPyE9OHqT— Bally Sports Cincinnati (@BallySportsCIN) April 7, 2023
In the bottom of the fifth, Turner would lead off with a single, then show off the wheels he possesses when Kyle Schwarber doubled to the right field corner. Watching Turner run was a pleasure.
Trea Turner — who doesn’t get what the big deal about his slides are — did the slide. pic.twitter.com/38nMGm6Z5C— Tim Kelly (@TimKellySports) April 7, 2023
Again, though, the Phillies had a runner in scoring position with less than two outs and couldn’t bring him home. It felt ominous, especially when the Reds tied the game at 2 in the sixth thanks to a double by Tyler Stephenson that eventually would chase Wheeler from the game.
Tyler Stephenson with a big double to knock in a run and draw even. pic.twitter.com/UfvRM1Ow92— Bally Sports Cincinnati (@BallySportsCIN) April 7, 2023
That scored remained the same into the seventh inning stretch when Turner led off again with a single, but remained anchored there when Schwarber just got under a ball that was flied out to center. That brought up Realmuto to be the hero of the game and he delivered.
REALMUTO CRUSHES ONE TO GIVE THE PHILS THE LEAD pic.twitter.com/1H4rs8qVl3— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 7, 2023
That.....was a bad pitch.
Realmuto’s home run was the first of the season for him, as well as the first one that was not a solo home run by the Phillies this season. Edmundo Sosa provided an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth that put the score at its final tally, but let’s also talk about the bullpen.
When Wheeler was lifted in the sixth, Andrew Bellatti started the procession of arms from the ‘pen that was tasked with keeping the Reds lineup down. Not exactly a tall task on paper, but Cincinnati has been hitting the ball well to start the season. Bellatti, Gregory Soto, Jose Alvarado and Craig Kimbrel all rang the bell for the Phillies, shutting the game down with some nasty stuff, Alvarado especially, to give the game to the Phillies.
It was a solid win. Wheeler looked very good, the lineup did enough and the bullpen locked it down. They’ll do it again tomorrow against the Reds, first pitch being at 4:05.