There’s nothing like a win on Opening Day. Forget the cliche ” they’re on pace for 162-0″ bullshit quip that’s typically followed by a half-hearted chuckle, it’s just nice to get out of the gate on a positive note, particularly with the quick day off tomorrow. It gives everyone a positive vibe to sit on for two days before the team takes the field again on Saturday afternoon.
As for the game itself, Aaron Nola was Aaron Nola. Just a ho-hum six innings of one-run baseball. Shrug. No big deal. Nola has reached the point where “really good” has become the norm, so let’s focus on the offense for today.
It’s probably unrealistic to expect the Phillies to plate double-digit runs on a consistent basis this season (I think?), and it remains to be seen if this lineup will prove to match the significant hype surrounding it, but it sure looks deep. That depth was on full display during the Phillies’ 10-4 Opening Day bashing of the Atlanta Braves in front of a sold-out crowd at Citizens Bank Park this afternoon.
Last week, I wrote about why McCutchen should thrive in the leadoff spot, specifically, pointing to his success against four-seam fastballs last season. He made good on that thesis right away against this 92 mph four-seamer from Braves starter Julio Teheran:
With the game tied in the fourth inning and a runner on third with nobody out, Teheran struck out both Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins. The inning appeared to be shaping up as a missed opportunity for the Phillies, one very similar to what we saw far too many times last season, but what then transpired was a very different result. J.T. Realmuto worked a six-pitch walk to keep the inning alive, setting up a pair of RBI singles from Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez that gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Certainly, those hits were integral in determining the game’s outcome, but before Herrera even put the ball in play, I thought to myself, “Oh, shit. Now they have to deal with him. This is nonstop.” Ben Davis pointed it out on the broadcast, too. It’s almost like Teheran took a deep breath once he got through Harper and Hoskins, but the Phillies’ attack has a wave after wave feel about it, and it doesn’t afford a pitcher the opportunity to catch his breath. This point was illustrated again in the sixth inning when the Cesar Hernandez walked with two outs to put two men on base. In stepped Maikel Franco, the Phillies No. 8 hitter, who, you know, used to be the team’s No. 3 hitter, to break the game wide open:
In the seventh inning, with the bookends of the Phillies lineup already having done sufficient damage, it was the middle of the order’s turn to get involved. With first base open and nobody out, Braves manager Brian Snitker elected to walk Bryce Harper to instead face Rhys Hoskins. Snitker, as it turns out, did a bad, bad thing:
Hoskins’ 380-foot blast effectively ended the game and served as the exclamation point on the Phillies’ emphatic Opening Day statement that the feeble offense which duck-farted its way to a .237 average and 4.18 runs per game a season ago is a thing of the past. Here’s Gabe Kapler on Hoskins’ slam:
And the best part of this all? It was the guys who were part of that feeble offense a season ago that did most of the damage, driving in 9 of the team’s 10 runs. While I wouldn’t count on this type of performance every night, I also wouldn’t count on Realmuto and Harper going a combined 0 for 6, so take solace in that.
This, friends, is your 2019 Philadelphia Phillies. Let us rejoice.