Harper Homers and Hustles as Phillies Blast Cardinals

PHOTO CREDIT: JOHN GELIEBTER-USA TODAY SPORTS

This, friends, this is the way the Phillies drew it up back in March. Aaron Nola dominates, Bryce Harper mashes, nay, everybody mashes, and the Phillies bludgeon the opposition into submission in a blowout win. Before we continue, let us enjoy some Tsunami by DVBBS & Borgeous, which is played after every home run at Citizens Bank Park, and thus currently remains very much embedded in my brain as I write this.

 

Whoever is in charge of the in-stadium music couldn’t pump it fast enough tonight. The Phillies pounded out 11 runs and 12 hits in an 11-4 rout of the Cardinals. Brutal month for St. Louis which is now a miserable 7-18 in May after entering the month 19-10. Yikes.

Anyway, the Phillies’ offensive explosion was headlined by Harper’s three-hit performance. About Harper, real quick. You may have heard something about how he’s struggling right now. Lots of missed fastballs. Lots of missed breaking balls. Copious, potentially historic amounts of strikeouts. All true. Can’t hide from facts, but here’s what else is true: he’s currently the owner of an .839 OPS. He’s also on pace for approximately 30 homers, 50 doubles, and well over 100 RBI. And he’s struggling, or maybe, he was struggling.

The result here was great, no doubt, but I was particularly encouraged to see quality contact by Harper to left-center in both his first inning single and this bomb. I’ve previously talked about Harper’s startling increase in pull contact this season. According to FanGraphs, he entered the night pulling 50% of his balls put in play, up more than 10% over his career average. Why does this matter? Quite simply, more contact to left and center field would suggest he’s seeing the ball better and trusting himself more, which might signal the arrival of that hot streak everybody is waiting for.

Gabe Kapler talked after the game about Harper’s recent adjustments:

At one point I had a conversation with (hitting coach) John Mallee during the game, and said, ‘if there’s one thing that you’re seeing with Bryce that’s really standing out right now, what is it?’ He said, ‘it’s the lowest effort level we’ve seen from him all year.’ Something that they’ve been working on together pretty diligently, and it’s really paying dividends for Bryce right now.

But wait! There’s more!

He would later follow with this hustle double, the 200th of his career, which pleased those who waited out the over 90-minute rain delay this evening.

His manager also appreciated it.

“I think that type of effort level is uncommon in a superstar of Bryce’s caliber. It’s not often you see that combination of talent, grit, determination, and all-out, 100% hustle,” Kapler said.

That knock would make it 6-1, but the Phillies weren’t done. In fact, they were just getting started. Scott Kingery, Maikel Franco, and Andrew McCutchen would combine for three homers in the fifth inning that traveled a combined 1,215 feet, or roughly 23% of a mile, to give the Phillies a commanding 11-1 lead.

That would be plenty for Nola who improved to 6-0 after allowing only one run on four hits and three walks over seven innings. His 102-pitch effort, which included 68 for strikes, marked the first time in 12 starts this season that he completed seven full innings after going at least seven innings in six of his first 12 starts last season.

With the win, the Phillies are now 20-10 at Citizens Bank Park this season, good for the National League’s second-best home record behind only the Dodgers. Guess where the Phillies play next.

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7 Responses

  1. 330 million dollar player drives the ball against a 22 year old, first game, rookie… isn’t this how its supposed to go?

      1. why would I complain on the day of Christs birth? Or are you one of the satanists that celebrates the pagan version of christmas with gift exchanging? Ah you brain washed, low IQ’d ape.

        1. awesome how you followed up your stupid comment, with an even more stupid one! keep up the good work.

  2. Derek has 17 home runs.

    1. Dietrich – Career #’s – 7 years / HR’s: 77 / 240 RBI / .254 average / 29 years old… Harper – Career #’s – 8 years / 194 HR’s / 561 RBI / .277 average / 26 years old. I’ll take Harper, since the money, for the Phillies, means nothing.

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