Finally, after two months, the reigning NL MVP has returned to Citizens Bank Park. That is right, Bryce Harper has returned to the lineup after the incident in San Diego. Harper hasn’t played for the Phillies since he broke his left thumb on June 25. He was expected to play in Lehigh Valley through Saturday and possibly return to the Philadelphia lineup on Monday when the playoff-contending Phillies begin a series at Arizona. Well, plans change.
Watching From Afar
We all watched as Bryce Harper made his rehab starts in Allentown. Bryce Harper looked primed to join the Phillies in a pennant race with two big swings in his first game. Harper homered to right-center field in his first at-bat, then went opposite field for a three-run shot in the eighth inning for Philadelphia’s Triple-A team Tuesday night.
Harper was the designated hitter and hit second in the lineup for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs for the start of a six-game series against Gwinnett. He nailed the fifth pitch he saw from Atlanta Braves prospect Jared Shuster. It soared high over the wall at Coca-Cola Park in front of what was announced as a sellout crowd of 10,100 fans.
In his second at-bat, The boos of the crowd rained down because the soldout crowd wanted Harper to take another big swing. Harper was later caught stealing. He grounded out in his third plate appearance, and walked again, and scored in the seventh to lead Lehigh Valley to a 10-5 victory over Gwinnett. Harper’s Ironpig merch was jumping off the shelves.
On Tuesday, the Phillies outlasted the Cincinnati Reds, 7-6. The Phightins remained in the thick of the NL wild-card race. After the win, Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said the staff will talk to Harper about his return date and did not rule out Friday as a possibility. Harper’s teammates were not quiet about other excitement to see their leader return. Their wishes were granted.
“Bring him up. He doesn’t need more games. What is he doing down there? He’s ready. Hopefully, he comes back quick. If he hit two homers, bring him up.”Second baseman Jean Segura said after the win on Tuesday
Harper Has Returned
To be at the ballpark tonight would be a treat for fans young and old. The crowd had a standing ovation as Bryce made his way to the plate for the first time since June 25th. As the DH, Bryce Harper, stepped up to the plate and started to laugh. His teammates had set up a hilariously perfect situation that seemed almost designed for the moment. The bases were juiced with no outs, and the crowd at Citizens Bank Park was electrified.
The fans remained standing, glued to every pitch. Harper saw five pitches from Pittsburgh right-hander Bryse Wilson in that first at-bat. A 2-2 pitch, changeup, right down the middle of the plate, and Harper ripped a single to right field. This brought in the first two RBIs, scoring Rhys Hoskins and Kyle Schwarber. For the night, Bryce went 1-for-4 from the cleanup spot. He also grounded out twice and lined out to first base.
Bryce has sparked this team. The Phillies now have six players with at least 50 RBIs this season. This includes Harper, who now has 50 after missing the last two months. Only two other teams in the majors, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, can say the same. This Phillies team has struggled at times with driving in runners, and it’s something Harper should be able to help correct. Let’s be honest. Harper will also strike fear into the hearts of the remaining opponents. LET’S GO! Harper has returned.
Cover photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Phillies Twitter @Phillies
Al is one of the two co-creators of Edge of Philly Sports. Al started radio and podcasting in 2012 and covering sports in 2015. A lifelong Philly sports fan since watching the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers with his grandfathers at age 7. Al always looks at the other side of the hot topics and gives his different outlook on those topics. Web and Graphic Design.