Bryce Harper was booed, loudly, when his name was announced as part of Philadelphia’s lineup. Harper told reporters before his first game in Nationals Park as part of the Phillies’ organization, that he expected as much, after he left the nation’s capital and signed a 13-year/$330M free agent deal to play for the City of Brotherly Love, though he also said he thought he might hear some cheers.
“I mean it’s baseball. It’s part of the game,” Harper said of what he expected in terms of a reception in Washington.
“It’s part of sports. I hope I get a great one. Of course I think there will be some boos and things like that, but that’s part of the game and I think I’ll get some cheers as well.
“Like I said, I’ll always remember the memories we had here and the excitement and things like that and all the screams and the cheers. I’ll always remember that.”
He can add a chorus of boos to his memory bank. Loud boos. Followed by cheers as he fell behind 0-2 against Max Scherzer. Harper spit on a cutter, then a change, low and out of the zone, then K’d swinging over a 2-2 changeup to the excitement of the crowd in D.C.
Yo homes, smell ya later. pic.twitter.com/3Jf1aR8mJq— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 3, 2019
Scherzer got him again in the third, with a 3-2 cutter in under the hands that Harper K’d on, 0 for 2, 2 Ks.
Harper doubled on a 1-2 curve up in the zone in his third at bat, putting two on with one out, but Rhys Hoskins K’d swinging over an 0-2 changeup, and J.T. Realmuto K’d looking at a 2-2 fastball to end the threat.
The atmosphere in those at bats, and the overall vibe in the ballpark was electric, but it was Harper’s Phillies who came out on top, 8-2, in the first game of 2019 between the divisional rivals.
Scherzer vs the rest of the Phillies: Maikel Franco got the Phils on the board in the second, hitting a 2-2 change that drifted in on his hands out to left field for a two-out solo shot that gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead.
Scherzer kept it there through three, but a two-out rally, and a bases-loaded passed ball got another run on the board for the visiting team, 2-0.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 1 HR, 96 P, 65 S, 2/2 GO/FO.
Eflin not Elfin: Zach Eflin kept the Nationals hitless through 3 2⁄3, and scoreless through five, and he worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Zach Eflin’s Line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 85 P, 57 S, 1/2 GO/FO.
Trea Turner Leaves Game: Trea Turner squared to bunt on an 0-1 fastball from Philly righty Zach Eflin, and took a 94 MPH fastball off the index/pointer finger on his right hand, which appeared to be dislocated as the MASN broadcast noted the trainer was trying his best to pop it back into place as the shortstop sat in the dirt behind home plate.
Turner left the game at that point, replaced by Wilmer Difo, and headed for an X-ray.
Matt Adams Out: Matt Adams got his first start of 2019 tonight, but a few innings after he went after a pop down the first base line and ended up going head over heels over the railing and into the stands, the Nats’ big first baseman left the game, replaced by Ryan Zimmerman. Back spasms for Adams according to the Nationals.
BULLPEN ACTION: Wander Suero replaced Max Scherzer on the mound in the top of the sixth, well, technically he replaced Andrew Stevenson, who hit for Scherzer in the fifth.
Suero gave up a leadoff double by Odubel Herrera in the first at bat of the inning, and a wild pitch moved Herrera to third with no one out. Suero struck Cesar Hernandez out with a two-strike changeup, and after an intentional walk to Maikel Franco, Matt Grace came on to face Phillies’ left-hander Nick Williams with runners on the corners and one out.
Grace got up 0-2 on Williams, and threw a 1-2 sinker inside under the hands for a swinging third strike and out No. 2. Davey Martinez left Grace in to face Andrew McCutchen as well, and the southpaw walked the outfielder to load the bases in front of Jean Segura, who hit .313 vs LHPs in 2018, and hit an 0-1 sinker by first for a base-clearing double, 5-0.
Bryce Harper followed with an RBI single to left, 6-0.
Plus, I met someone else— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) April 3, 2019
We havin' better discussions pic.twitter.com/KJnLKqAUKF
Philly lefty Jose Alvarez took over on the mound in the bottom of the sixth, and gave up a leadoff single by Wilmer Difo and a one-out, two-run home run to left by Anthony Rendon, 6-2. Rendon’s first of 2019
Juan Nicasio came on and gave up a Ryan Zimmerman single, but got the final out of the inning.
Odubel Herrera’s third double on the night was a pop to right that fell in in-between Brian Dozier going back and Adam Eaton charging, but Kyle Barraclough walked Maikel Franco intentionally, and retired Aaron Altherr to end the top of the seventh.
Edubray Ramos retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Jeremy Hellickson made his 2019 debut in the top of the eighth, and faced Harper with a runner on and one out, and gave up a two-run home run on a 2-2 fastball Gone, 8-2 Philly. And that bat flip...
We were saying Boo-ryce... pic.twitter.com/Gvo08aZykq— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) April 3, 2019
458 feet. A bat flip toward the Nats dugout. Wow. pic.twitter.com/6HTrZfIvER— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) April 3, 2019
Hellickson tossed a scoreless top of the ninth, but the Nationals came up empty against Vince Velasquez in the bottom of the inning. 8-2 Phillies final.
Nationals now 1-3