After 52 games, reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper made his triumphant return to the lineup for the Phillies, and his impact was felt immediately. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning, Harper strode to the plate in Phillie Phanatic green cleats to thunderous applause, and on the fifth pitch he saw, he found a hole between the first and second baseman to score Kyle Schwarber, who had reached on an error, and Rhys Hoskins, who doubled. It started the Phils on the way to a 7-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citizens Bank Park.
“I started laughing because it was awesome. It’s so cool to be in that moment,” said Harper, who finished 1-for-4 with two RBI, when asked about the fan’s reaction to his return. “I love those types of moments; I love those opportunities. It’s so much fun to go out there and have a team that’s in it.
“This is the time to go,” added Harper, who had been out of the lineup since breaking his left thumb on June 25th in San Diego. “We need to keep being great as a team. I’m just trying to not screw it up.”
“My Father once said, a really bright executive knows how to take credit for stuff that falls in his lap,'” Phillies manager Rob Thomson laughed while discussing Harper’s first at-bat. “So, that’s why I put him in the four hole. It was great, he came through, and we jumped on those guys.”
To the Actions
In the first, the Phillies would bat around and score four runs. J.T. Realmuto forced out Harper, but Alec Bohm scored. Then Realmuto stole his 16th base of the season (he’s 16-for-16) and scored on a single by Nick Castellanos. They added two more in the second and a single run in the eighth after the Pirates had chipped away to make things a little uncomfortable at 6-4.
Bailey Falter was recalled from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Ironpigs to make the start for the Phillies suddenly banged-up starting staff. He went six innings, allowed three runs (on two home runs), and gave up six hits but didn’t walk a batter. As a staff, the Phils have allowed just 10 free passes in the last five games. The last three starters haven’t surrendered a single bases-on-balls.
“You’ve got to be willing to adapt in this game,” said Falter, who returned to Lehigh Valley after winning a game against the New York Mets earlier in this homestand. “You got a job to do. Come up here and hopefully do enough to get the boys a win.”
Connor Brogdon struggled in the seventh, allowing a home run and two more baserunners before exiting for Jose Alverado, who got out of the jam by inducing a double-play ball. Bohm made a nice backhand on a ball down the line, stepped on third, and completed the twin killing with a throw to Hoskins at first. David Robertson and Brad Hand pitched the final two innings without allowing a man to reach base, and the Phillies had their fifth win in a row and sixth in seven games. An impact was felt immediately.
Rock Hoffman has been covering sports in the Philadelphia region for over 30 years. He’s been the co-host of a radio show – SportsPage – on the Delaware Valley Radio Network (WRDV.org) in the time. He’s reported on games involving all the Philadelphia teams at the profession and collegiate levels. During his career he’s provided coverage for a Super Bowl, an All-Star Game, NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games as well NFL, MLB and NHL playoff games. Additionally, he’s the College Football Editor for Football Stories Magazine (FootballStories.com).