What happened an inning after Bryce Harper provided one of the greatest regular season moments in the history of Citizens Bank Park may ultimately matter. The Phillies failed to close the deal in a winnable game, and in the middle of a wild card race, maybe the loss hurts a few weeks from now.

But the morning after Harper once again showed an unrivaled ability to capture the big moment when he swatted his 300th career home run, the end result, a 10-8 Angels win, doesn’t feel all that important. That feels weird to write because I’m a resulst-oriented guy, and in most cases, I’ll overlook the details.

It’s either win or lose, except it was absolutely impossible to overlook the details of this game:

Two innings before Harper delivered his 300th career home run, Trea Turner provided a memorable swing with a three-run homer that capped his epic August turnaround. The crowd went crazy. Harper then had his moment. The crowd again went crazy.

All of it was hard to believe, yet perfectly believable.

Then, after the game, one of the biggest superstars in the sport once again gushed over his feelings for the Phillies, his teammates and the city. He then paused to drop this acknowledgment:

“Everybody thinks I pander a lot, but it’s real. It’s so real, its from the bottom of my heart, and I’m just thankful to put this jersey on everyday.”

That’s a lot of feel-good stuff on a day that ended with a pretty ugly loss. Admittedly, Harper’s moment would have been easier to romanticize had his home run put the Phillies on top for good, but as I walked out of the clubhouse after the game, I tried to make sense of everything that had just happened.

In terms of Harper, what else is there to say that hasn’t already been said? Great player. Great entertainer. Amazing ability to perform when the lights are brightest. You’re watching a living legend.

As for this Phillies team as a whole, well, they are a bit harder to define.

Here’s where I have landed:

The 2022 Phillies made their October run last fall. Much of it was attributed to vibes, a great crowd, and some hard-to-define characteristic possessed by a clubhouse that blitzed through the National League en route to the World Series. Of course, the players played. Pitchers executed pitches. Hitters locked in at key times. They played the game at a consistently-high level for three weeks, and that’s the primary reason they made that memorable run. But it was hard not watch all that magic unfold last fall and concede that there was some unquantifiable greater force at play.

Sort of feels that way again. Doesn’t it?

The back end of the Phillies bullpen was dismal Wednesday, and it’s totally fair to have some concerns about what the late innings look like right now. But this is a rare case in which I advise you not let the end result overshadow an all-time moment that has come in the midst of some good baseball from this team.

Trea Turner Finishes Elite Month

No offense to Turner, whose game has spent most of this month on another planet. But after he launched a 416-foot missile into the left field bleachers that gave the Phillies a 6-5 lead in the sixth inning, I looked over at Anthony SanFilippo who was a few feet away. We looked at each other and said the same thing at the same time.


While I was having a hard time getting my head around Turner’s homer, John Kruk was out there calling it:

Maybe I should have seen it coming, too. Turner brought his season back from the dead this month.

You know the deal by now. He bottomed out a few weeks ago. It was ugly. Really ugly.

Through August 3rd, he produced a miserable .235/.290/.368 slash line. No matter how often the back of the baseball card tells a true story, it looked like a liar for Turner this season. His lengthy track record suggested a rebound was coming, but it was almost impossible to see in the moment. Then some unexpected cheers arrived, and coincidence or not (the world will never know), but Turner has transformed back into one of baseball’s best offensive players.

All he has done this month has hit .324 with 19 extra-base hits s to lift his OPS from .667 on Aug. 1 to .747, its highest since April 23rd when he closed the day at .774.

Other Quick Thoughts

  • It’s pretty wild that a Phillies player had a better month than Turner, but Harper managed to do it. In 26 games, he hit .361 with a .452 on-base percentage. His 10 homers and 20 extra-base hits helped propel a 1.236 OPS.
  • How about Harper’s defense in the third inning on that Shohei Ohtani smash to first base? 105.7 mph off the bat, gets off his feet, lands, spins, and throws a dart to second base. Impressive.
  • One thing I hear all the time after the Phillies throw up a big number offensively is that you can rest assured they will get shut out or take an L the next day. In reality, they are now 6-5 while averaging 4.36 runs per game following a double-digit output. Not great, but also not as bad as it seems.
  • Not the best game from Cristopher Sanchez, but it could have been worse without some help from the official scorer. An inning after the Angels scored three runs (all earned) in the fifth inning, Sanchez was charged with a fielding error, sparing him two earned runs. The scoring change dropped his ERA dropped from 3.72 to 3.48. Howard Eskin sits next to me in the press box. If you ever bump into him, ask him for his thoughts on how baseball is scored in 2023. Just make sure you have 25 minutes to spare.
  • It will be interesting to see if the Phillies can keep up their offensive surge in Milwaukee this weekend. The Brewers can flat-out pitch. They have the 8th-best team ERA (4.22) this season and just came off a series against a good Cubs offense in which they allowed six total runs over three games.