For the second time in as many games in the new season, the Phillies' powered-up lineup produced three home runs. The bullpen also shined as the Phils improved to 2-0 with a 8-6 win over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.
The second straight sellout crowd (44,597) got what it had been waiting for when Bryce Harper crushed a mammoth solo homer to right-center in the seventh inning.
The Phils have scored 18 runs in two games. Thirteen of their runs their runs have come via the long ball.
The last time the Phils opened the season with two straight wins was 2011. That was their last winning season and the last time they made the playoffs.
• Odubel Herrera walked with one out in the fourth. Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco, the Phillies' No. 7 and 8 hitters, followed with a triple and a homer, respectively, to account for three quick runs.
• Rhys Hoskins drew a two-out walk in the fifth and J.T. Realmuto followed with a two-run homer to center to give the Phillies an insurmountable 6-4 lead. Realmuto's first homer as a Phillie came off the bat at 113 mph and traveled 434 feet.
• Harper gave the people what they wanted in the bottom of the seventh.
• In a two-run game, Pat Neshek got a couple of dangerous hitters, Josh Donaldson and Freddie Freeman, for the second and third outs in the top of seventh. For the game, six Phillies relievers combined on 4 1/3 scoreless innings of two-run ball. The only runs it allowed came in the ninth when David Robertson surrendered a two-run homer in a four-run game.
Baseball's warring factions, the scouts and the analytics folks, are in agreement that Nick Pivetta could be a breakout performer in 2019. So there was much anticipation surrounding his debut start of the new season. Pivetta wasn't terrible, but he wasn't good, either. He was tagged for a triple and a run in the first inning. He allowed a single and a two-run homer in the second. He gave up a run in the fifth, but it was aided by a defensive shift. In all, Pivetta went 4 2/3 innings and gave up eight hits and four runs. He walked one and struck out four. There's still a lot of time for his break out.
Sights and sounds
The fans loved Harper's homer in the seventh and they lured him out of the dugout for a curtain call. He responded to the raucous ovation by pumping both of his arms above his head. Harper then received a standing O as he ran to his position in right field to start the eighth. So far, it seems as if the people like him.
Franco has two home runs and six RBIs in his first two games. Not bad for a guy who wasn't even sure he was going to get out of spring training with the Phillies.
Manager Gabe Kapler reported that Tommy Hunter did not respond well after his latest bullpen session in Florida. "He was a little sore," Kapler said. Hunter is on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow/forearm area. There is no timetable for his return.
The Phillies and Braves close out the series Sunday night in a nationally televised game. Jake Arrieta makes his season debut against rookie right-hander Kyle Wright.
The Phillies are idle Monday. They travel to Washington on Tuesday night for Harper's return to that city.
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