The 2017 Phillies are officially undefeated. The Phils opened up the 2017 season with a 4-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds today at Great American Ballpark. Jeremy Hellickson got the nod for the second consecutive year as he opposed Scott Feldman of the Reds, who signed with Cincinnati on a 1-year deal in the offseason. Believe it or not, this was Feldman’s 3rd Opening Day start, as he has gotten the call for the opener for the Astros and the Rangers in years past.
The game couldn’t have started any better for the Phillies. Second baseman and leadoff man Cesar Hernandez, who had just 6 home runs last season, started the game with a leadoff home run to give the Phillies the early 1-0 lead. The first inning continued with a single from new Phillies left fielder Howie Kendrick in his Phils debut. Odubel Herrera ended up grounding into a double play to follow, but Maikel Franco kept the inning alive with a single, carrying over his hot bat from spring training over to his first regular season at-bat. Another new Phillie, Michael Saunders, made some noise in his Phillies debut with an RBI double in his first appearance in Phillies red.
This offensive explosion in the first inning gave Jeremy Hellickson a 2-0 lead before he even took the mound. The scoring continued in the top of the 2nd, as Freddy Galvis, coming off a season in which he hit a career high 20 home runs last year, hit his first home run of this season in his first at-bat to give the Philies an early 3-0 lead.
Here’s something fun to think about from this home run. The last time the Phillies middle infield homered on Opening Day was when Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins achieved the feat in 2008. I think we all know what happened that year…
The Reds were able to get into the run column, though, in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Billy Hamilton was able to drive in Zack Cozart on a sacrifice fly to make it a 3-1 ballgame. The 3rd and 4th innings for Jeremy Hellickson were his toughest, as the Reds were able to get runners on 2nd and 3rd base in the 3rd inning, but he was able to get out of that inning with just that 1 run given up. He then was faced with a bases loaded jam in the 4th after giving up a single to Adam Duvall, a hit by pitch to Eugenio Suarez, and a walk to Scott Schebler. With the bases loaded and one out, he was able to force Zack Cozart and Tucker Barnhart to both fly out without allowing a run to score.
As the top of the 6th inning got going for the Phils at the plate, Blake Wood came out of the bullpen for the Reds and got two quick outs, forcing Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp to both fly out. Freddy Galvis then kept the inning alive with his second extra base hit of the day, a double, which then brought Jeremy Hellickson up to the plate. Hellickson hit a line drive that Scott Schebler left his feet for and just couldn’t get to, allowing Galvis to score and Hellickson to pull into 3rd base with an RBI triple, helping his own cause and giving the Phils a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the 6th.
Hellickson went on to officially finish only 5 innings on 67 pitches with 1 run given up, as he was removed from the game after giving up a double to Adam Duvall to start the 6th. Joaquin Benoit made his Phillies debut out of the bullpen, as he came in and shut the door, leaving Duvall on 2nd base after striking out both Suarez and Schebler, followed by a line out from Zack Cozart.
The combination of Benoit, Edubray Ramos and Hector Neris held the Reds without another run leading into the 9th. The Phillies were also held at bay as the combination of 5 different pitchers after Feldman helped keep the game at 4-1 heading into the bottom of the 9th inning.
Jeanmar Gomez, who was officially given the closers role at the end of spring training by Pete Mackanin, was called upon to close the door for the Phillies in the 9th. It was a questionable call by Mackanin to give Gomez the clear road to the closer’s role after the second half he had last year. We touched upon this subject earlier on in spring training, talking about who should be the closer heading into the year. Pete ultimately chose Jeanmar, looking at his first half more than his second half from last year. That decision didn’t look so good today. A 2-run home run from Scooter Gennett made Mackanin’s decision look pretty bad to start, but when Billy Hamilton flied out to Odubel Herrera to end the game, all was well in the mind of the Phillies Phaithful. Gomez has his first save of the year, and the Phillies have their first win.
It was a showcase of sorts for Phillies who have things to prove. Newcomers like Kendrick, who had 3 hits, Saunders, and Benoit made immediate impacts. The middle of the infield supplied some much needed power in very important years for them with the influx of young infield talent on the farm.
Overall, it was a very nice showing by the Phillies to start the year. It’s a very long season, so we shouldn’t look too much into the first game of 162, but it’s never a bad thing to start the season on a positive note.
Photo: lefty516 (Via: Flickr)
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