Harper ends career-long HR drought as Phillies double-header originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The long national nightmare is over. Bryce Harper is off the schneid.
Harper put the Phillies on the scoreboard with an unmistakably outburst in front of center field in the fourth inning Saturday night, his first home run since May 25, ending a drought of 166 plate appearances throughout the season. throughout his career.
It started a hit parade for the Phillies, who scored nine runs on 11 hits in the fourth through seventh innings.
A flick of the wrist from Kyle Schwarber in the fifth inning resulted in a three-run homer, his second of Saturday’s double sweep. The Phillies beat the Padres in the last drink, 9-4, and won both games for only the third time in their last 32 doubles.
The Phils did damage against every Padres pitcher they faced in the series other than the top three, starters Yu Darvish and Blake Snell and closest Josh Hader.
Three key bats could finally warm up. Harper had the single hit and tyer in the eighth inning of Game 1, and Schwarber and Trea Turner reached base in five of 10 plate appearances.
Then Harper and Schwarber went deep in Game 2, while Turner missed his own home run by inches, doubling, singular and walking. Harper reached base four times with a home run, a double, two walks and a steal of third.
Turner also made excellent defensive play in the hole between the court and the third to deny Xander Bogaerts a single.
After the match, Harper played down the end of his nearly two-month longball-free streak.
“Everyone talks about it, but that’s the way it is,” he said. “For me personally, keep hitting hard in baseball. I don’t try to hit home runs, when you try to hit home runs it’s not good. I put a really good swing on a ball this night and I was able to get her out of there. Keep rocking and keep doing my thing.
The Phillies’ decisive fifth-inning rally began with a single by catcher Garrett Stubbs, his sixth already this season. Johan Rojas followed with his first major league hit, a broken-bat single to center. Schwarber had a throw later on an 86 mph change from Ryan Weathers who was over the plate.
The Phils added two more in the sixth on a bunt single from Rojas and a right-hand Turner single. Rojas blooped in another run in the eighth for a three-hitter game. He made sensational defensive play on his major league debut in the afternoon.
“He’s had a great year this year in the minor leagues,” Harper said of the Phils’ new center fielder. “Excited to see him run, excited to see him play. I know they’re going to love it. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch. We looked at it in spring training, we know so how great a player he can be.”
Taijuan Walker started and went five innings, giving up two runs. He threw 29 pitches in the first inning but minimized the damage, allowing one run on a groundout. He suffered a defensive error and a dubious official score in the fifth when Rougned Odor hit a relatively running ground ball short which Edmundo Sosa had to run a few steps to his left to corral. Sosa gloved the ball but missed, Odor scrambled to second and was credited with a giveaway double. He scored on a Trent Grisham single.
Walker worked hard, throwing 96 pitches, but did enough to earn another win. He is 11-3 this season with a 4.00 ERA. The Phillies have won each of his last seven starts and 14 of the 19 games he has pitched.
Sosa was hit in the hand by a pitch in the seventh inning and was down for several minutes. He stayed to run, then suffered cramp while running from second to third and was pulled. It was a tough 10 minutes for him, but manager Rob Thomson said after the game that Sosa’s hand was OK.
The double sweep put the Phillies 50-42 heading into Sunday’s series finale, which may or may not be played as scheduled due to a high likelihood of rain throughout the morning and early afternoon. The Phils and Padres are both off on Monday, providing a logical catch-up date in the event of a postponement.
Zack Wheeler starts for the Phils facing right-hander Seth Lugo, a familiar foe from his seven seasons with the Mets.
“Really hot today, really tough for both teams to stay on top or go there, but we got it done,” Harper said. “I fought until the end, got Game 1, then jumped on it in Game 2.”