Phils Take Series Opener In Colorado

The Phillies have struggled historically in the thin air of Coors Field, but they managed to lock in their fourth straight win on Friday, taking the series opener against the Colorado Rockies. 

Taijuan Walker put together his second straight solid outing, holding Rockies hitters at bay over 6.0 strong innings. He surrendered three earned runs, although Ryan McMahon reached on a wild pitch following a strikeout, and a Josh Harrison throwing error put two on with no one out in the sixth, both of which came around to score. Walker fanned only three, but walked none and limited Colorado to only seven hits in the most hitter-friendly park in the league. 

Matt Strahm looked just as effective in relief as he was in the rotation, tossing a scoreless seventh inning, followed by Seranthony Domínguez who worked around one hit in a scoreless frame. Craig Kimbrel slammed the door in the ninth, punching out three and yielding only one hit en route to his 398th career save. 

While Walker was excellent through six, his offense couldn’t get anything going while he was in the game, being held scoreless by Austin Gomber’s heading into the seventh. Alec Bohm got the rally started with a one-out solo shot to left-center, and Bryce Harper kept the chains moving with a single up the middle. Nick Castellanos hustled down the line to beat out a double play, keeping the inning alive for Kyle Schwarber. The big man turned on a first-pitch hanging curveball and crushed it out to dead center, putting the Phils on top 3-0.

Colorado capitalized on some sloppy play from the Phillies to put two on the board in the bottom of the frame, but it wouldn’t remain tied for long. After two quick outs to begin the top of the eighth, Trea Turner doubled and Alec Bohm walked to put two on with two outs. Bryce Harper smoked a 2-0 hanging sweeper from Justin Lawrence off the top of the right field wall for a two-run double to put the Phils back on top 5-3. On the very next pitch, Harper took off for third, forcing an errant throw from Rockies catcher Elias Díaz to sail into left field. Harper trotted home safely to give the Phillies a comfortable 6-3 lead heading into the ninth.

Not only did the Phillies exorcise some demons in a park they have had trouble with in the past, but there were plenty of encouraging signs along the way. Kyle Schwarber has struggled mightily to begin the year, but has shown some signs of life lately. Bryce Harper continued his torrid start to the season, and Trea Turner pushed his hitting streak up to 11 games. Unfortunately, J.T. Realmuto sprained his right pinky finger on a slide into third base, needing to be lifted for Garrett Stubbs. Hopefully it won’t be a lengthy absence for the best catcher in baseball.

The Phils will look to secure their first five-game winning streak of the season Saturday night in Colorado, when Ranger Suárez makes his season debut against the man who stymied the Phillies three weeks ago, Ryan Feltner.

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