Scuffling Phils Spoil Harper’s Return

Bryce Harper’s miraculous return from Tommy John surgery has been the talk of the baseball world this week, but the Phillies ruined his first game back since last year’s World Series by getting absolutely destroyed by the Dodgers for the second night in a row. 

Harper’s return comes as a much-needed boon for a Phillies offense that is already missing Rhys Hoskins and Darick Hall. Harper was initially expected to be out until around this season’s All-Star break, with the timeline being incrementally moved up as his recovery progressed. Mid-July became late June, which became early June, which became late May, and eventually May 2nd. Not even the most optimistic of fans could’ve expected Harper’s return to come just over a month into the regular season, but the man who has made Philadelphia his own pulled another rabbit out of his hat. 

Harper’s first game back was a call for much celebration, as the Phillies’ potent offense has been very much feast or famine thus far. In fact, the day before his arrival the Phils got blown out 13-4 at the hands of the Dodgers, putting even more emphasis on his triumphant return. 

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Unfortunately, the team laid an absolute stinker in Harper’s return, falling to the same Dodgers team, this time 13-1. It was an ugly game all the way around, with Trea Turner’s solo home run being the only bright spot for the Phillies. Outside of that, the offense managed only one hit from Edmundo Sosa, and a pair of walks. 

Things were somehow even worse on the mound, as Matt Strahm’s season-opening excellence was nowhere to be found. The lefty lasted only 3.1 innings, surrendering four earned runs on six hits and a walk. He had some shoddy defense behind him and a lot of soft contact fall for hits, but even so his command just wasn’t there. Connor Brogdon stopped the bleeding for 1.2 frames, punching out and yielding only two hits, and Seranthony Domínguez pitched a clean frame of his own as well. 

Unfortunately, the wheels came completely off in the sixth inning, as the resurgent Gregory Soto got strafed. Soto gave up four hits and a walk, and he was ultimately responsible for four more runs crossing the plate. With the rout on, Manager Rob Thomson gave the ball to the ever-wild Yunior Marte, who walked two and gave up two hits. Matte’s four earned runs in one inning of work brought his season ERA up to an utterly unpalatable 18.00 mark. Finally, Thomson turned to infielder Kody Clemens to record the last out of the game, who allowed another run to score on three hits and a walk.

The Phillies have dropped two straight laughers to the Dodgers after losing a heartbreaker 4-3 to finish out their series in Houston. Hopefully, with Harper’s speedy return the offense can finally find its rhythm. The first month of the 2023 season has been steeped in inconsistency, but the addition of one of the best players in baseball should help get this team back on track.

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