The Texas Rangers have the Phillies number. There’s just something in the water. They won all four contests between the two teams last year, and they decimated the Phillies 11-7 in a game the Phils looked to be running away with early on.
The two-time Cy Young winner deGrom took the hill against the Phillies on Opening Day, and he wasn’t sharp. Alec Bohm kicked off the scoring in the top of the second with a two-run blast to right-center. Trea Turner drove in Brandon Marsh with a triple down the right field line in the third. Turner then scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-0 Phils. Marsh continued the offensive explosion with an RBI double in the fourth and the Phillies had a comfortable 5-0 lead. And then it all came crashing down.
Aaron Nola, who had struggled with his command all game, gave up a leadoff single to Corey Seager in the bottom of the fourth. After inducing a fielder’s choice from Nathaniel Lowe, Nola really fell apart, loading the bases with a single and a walk. Rangers catcher Jonah Heim drove in two with a double down the right field line, but that was just the beginning. The next batter, journeyman outfielder Robbie Grossman, blasted one out to right-center to tie the ballgame at five apiece. And just like that, the Phillies were right back where they started.
Unfortunately, the damage didn’t end there. Trade acquisition Gregory Soto came in with two outs in the fourth, and immediately walked Josh Smith. A Marcus Semien single and another walk to Corey Seager loaded the bases. Nathaniel Lowe chopped one between third base and home plate, and Smith just beat the throw home to give the Rangers a 6-5 lead. Connor Brogdon came on to hopefully put out the fire, but things unraveled even further. J.T. Realmuto made a rare gaffe, allowing a pitch to simply whizz past his glove to score a run. Adolis García then cranked a two-run double to make it 9-5 Rangers.
The wind was completely out of the Phillies’ sails after that fourth inning, and they looked completely lifeless for the rest of the contest. They managed to scratch across two more runs, but a Brad Miller two-run shot put the game further out of reach, and the Phils ultimately fell 11-7 in humiliating fashion.
Yes, this is only one game, and there’s no reason to panic yet. However, this game marked the culmination of months of anticipation, where the Phillies signed one of the top free agents available, brought in another All-Star starting pitcher, and bolstered an already strong bullpen. Phillies fans were beyond excited for the team’s National League pennant defense to begin, but this deflating loss put a sour note on one of the happiest days of the year. This team is expected to make another deep playoff run, even without Bryce Harper to begin the season and Rhys Hoskins for the entire campaign, and there’s no reason to expect any less after tonight. Hopefully, the Phils will put Thursday’s embarrassment behind them and finish off a series win in Texas this weekend.