Schwarber hits a home run to lead the Phillies to a 9-5 victory over the Athletics.
(AP) PHILADELPHIA — Inside the clubhouse, Rhys Hoksins conducted an informal poll to gauge the popularity of incoming Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber.
“What do you think of the new guy?” Hoskins explained. “He appeals to me.”
On opening day, Phillies fans felt the same way. His teammates adore him as well.
In his first at-bat with the Phillies, Schwarber hit a home run off the second-deck façade, flashed a “1” finger to his teammates, and flung his helmet in the air for a thunderous curtain call before a sellout crowd of 44,232.
His 14th career leadoff homer could be a foreshadowing of what’s to come.
The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Oakland Athletics 9-5 on Friday, with Bryce Harper driving in a run and Aaron Nola striking out seven batters.
Schwarber joked, “It’s a little early for a first-inning curtain call.” “However, it was a thrilling experience.”
Harper fought hard for the Phillies to sign Schwarber, and the team agreed to a four-year deal worth $79 million. Harper reportedly provided stump speeches — according to their joint agency, “four phone calls a day” — to persuade the Phillies to sign Nick Castellanos. Castellanos was given a five-year contract worth $100 million.
Harper urged the front staff to sign two sluggers for $179 million to help the team improve after finishing 82-80 last season.
Harper added, “I felt the lineup flowed pretty nicely, and it looked really fantastic.”
On just his ninth pitch of the game, Schwarber smashed a 427-foot home run to right field off A’s starter Frankie Montas (0-1).
In Philly, the good times were just getting started.
In the third inning, Schwarber’s one-out walk sparked a four-run inning. From his first at-bat to his final at-bat, Harper was greeted with loud “MVP! MVP!” chanting. With a single to left that he extended into a double, he demonstrated why he was named MVP last season. He was ruled out on the throw, but he remained at second base during the review. With each replay on the big screen showing Harper sliding cleanly under second baseman Tony Kemp, the audience erupted in applause. Harper scored on Hoskins’ two-RBI single after the play was reversed. It was 5-0 after Didi Gregorius’ single up the middle.
That’s the type of inning the Phillies envisioned when they bolstered their offensive in an attempt to end a postseason skid that began in 2011. Schwarber, who added an RBI single in the eighth inning to give the Cubs a 9-5 lead, has won a World Series with the Chicago Cubs and has appeared in the postseason in six of his seven major league seasons.
Nola, a 2018 All-Star who went 9-9 with a 4.63 ERA last season, started for the seventh consecutive season on opening day. In the fourth inning, Chad Pinder hit a solo home run. Seth Brown’s three-run home run in the seventh inning chased Nola out of the game (1-0). With runners on second and third, Brad Hand struck out Jed Lowrie looking to finish the seventh inning.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi stated, “He’d done quite good in that middle of the lineup and it just felt like he was getting the ball up a little bit and they made him pay.”
For a 7-5 advantage, Castellanos added an RBI double in the seventh inning. While playing table tennis in the clubhouse, Castellanos had a beer in one hand and Jay-Z was blasting through the speakers. He won over his new followers by sticking around after the final out and accepting autographed baseballs that were passed to him over the netting.
At his news conference after signing with the team, several Phillies wore T-shirts with a statement from Castellanos: “I don’t have a college degree, I hit baseballs.”
There are no degrees. In Game 1, though, the Phillies received all A’s.
“Man,” Castellanos remarked, “I think it describes a lot of the personalities in this clubhouse.” “We’re just a group of kids that get to play baseball,” says one player.
OUT OF MONIAK
With a broken right hand, the Phillies placed OF Mickey Moniak on the 10-day disabled list. He got hurt in his final at-bat of spring training on Wednesday and might be out for up to six weeks.
For the first time since 1993, the Phillie Phanatic parachuted onto the field before the first pitch.
The Phillies settled a legal issue with the Phanatic’s designer during the offseason, allowing baseball’s most popular Galapagos native to return to his natural green, furry, bulbous-belly state.
The Phillies’ Phanatic wasn’t the only component of the team that needed a makeover. The home run Liberty Bell had been out of commission for the previous few seasons, but it was fixed in time for the start of the season. 26,000 LED lights were added to the bell, and a new hydraulic system was installed to make the bell tremble as the Phillies went deep, according to Phillies executive vice president David Buck.
Bryson Stott made his major league debut as the starting third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies. Stott, the 14th overall choice in the 2019 amateur draught, got his first hit in the sixth inning. In the eighth inning, his first career double and RBI made it 8-5. His call-up was dedicated to — and he wears No. 5 in honour of — his boyhood best buddy, who died of cancer six years ago. On Thursday, Stott called Cooper Ricciardi’s mother, who was in tears over the news.
INTRODUCTION TO A FAMOUS DEBUT
For first-year Oakland manager Mark Kotsay, it was a loss on his debut. Bob Melvin was succeeded by Kotsay, who was promoted from third base coach to manager. Over the course of his 17-year career, Kotsay says this was his first big league game.
“You’ve been grinding through coaching for the last seven years to get to this point,” he remarked. “You know, the payoff of it all, the moment is coming up fast.” It’ll be over, and then the real work will begin.”