The Philadelphia Phillies began their 60-game 2020  Major League Baseball season on July 24 in Citizens Bank Park, hosting the Miami Marlins, their NL East rivals.

While the Phillies had some bright spots in this three-game series, they ultimately dropped two of three games. Miami terrorized Philadelphia’s pitching staff, tagging them for 11 runs in the series finale. While much of the starting lineup struggled offensively, new addition Didi Gregorious shined. The shortstop lead the team with four hits, two of them being home runs, in eleven at-bats, good for a .364 average.

Besides dropping two games, the series may lead to larger implications: after 14 individuals within the Marlins organization tested positive for COVID-19, the Phillies’ Monday night matchup with the New York Yankees was postponed to allow for further testing.

Game 1: Nola’s Solid Start Turns South in Sixth

Aaron Nola took the mound for his third straight Opening Day start: the first Phillies pitcher to do so since Roy Halladay. The Marlins worked veteran catcher Francisco Cervelli in the third inning, using fundamental baseball and scoring him on a Jonathan Villar sacrifice fly.

The Phillies would get their first run off Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara in the fifth inning, off the bat of Didi Gregorious. The former Yankees shortstop blasted a 376-foot shot to right field to tie the game.

While Nola was cruising heading into the sixth inning, things fell apart as the Marlins hitters forced him out of the game. Nola recorded just one out in the fifth, and was credited with four additional earned runs. A two-run homer by Jesus Aguilar sparked the Marlins rally, and two more of Nola’s runners scored after Ramon Russo took over at the mound.

Philadelphia would get a glimmer of hope in the seventh inning, with Gregorious scoring on a fielding error with designated hitter Jay Bruce at the plate. This would cut the score to 5-2.

But that would end the scoring for the night. Alcantara finished with a solid night for Miami, pitching 6.1 innings, allowing two hits, two runs, and just one earned run. He also struck out seven Phillies batters, including Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper two times each.

Nola struck out seven batters himself, allowing five hits and four earned runs in 5.1 innings. It’s not the start the Philles envisioned with their ace, but Philadelphia could have kept up with a little more offense. Five starters went hitless, and the first four batters in the lineup combined to go 1-for-14 with two walks and six strikeouts.

Gregorious was the standout batter, finishing the night 2-for-3 with two runs scored, a home run, and a walk.

Game 2: Phillies Erupt for Four Home Runs, 7-1 Win Over Marlins

While the core of the Phillies offense continued to struggle, a home run frenzy lifted Philadelphia over Miami 7-1 on Saturday.

Gregorious opened the scoring with his second home run in as many games: this one a 417-foot monster shot into the second deck.

Infielder Phil Gosselin, in his second year with the Phillies, got the start at designated hitter after Jay Bruce’s 0-for-4 opening night. The 31-year old didn’t disappoint, launching not one but two home runs of his own, driving in three runs. He finished the night three-for-three with a walk, reaching base on all four of his plate appearances.

By the end of this game, J.T. Realmuto opened the season going just 1-for-8 over two games. But he made that one hit count, hitting a towering 431-foot three-run home run in the seventh inning.

The offensive frenzy was supplemented by a dominant effort from Zack Wheeler in his first start with the Phillies. The former New York Mets pitcher earned a win, giving up just one run and five hits in seven innings pitched. He struck out four batters and walked two.

Marlins starter Caleb Smith had a short afternoon, giving up just one hit (a Gregorious home run) but six walks over three innings. The loss was tagged to Alex Vesia, who allowed Gosselin’s two-run shot in the sixth. All four Phillies home runs were allowed by different pitchers.

Game 3: Marlins Pound Phillies Pitching Staff, Prevail 11-6

The Marlins took the field on Sunday afternoon in light of what would become a coronavirus clubhouse outbreak, with 14 players and coaches testing positive by the following day. Marlins players allegedly vowed to play despite these concerns in a team group text.

Despite multiples starters already sidelined with COVID-19, and a late scratch of scheduled starter Jose Urena, the Marlins wore down the Phillies pitching staff for 11 runs in their season-clinching finale.

On the bright side, the Phillies had a well-rounded offensive effort. With the first two batters on base, Bryce Harper sent a Robert Dugger pitch 393-feet for a three-run home run, and a 3-0 first inning lead before the Marlins had recorded an out.

Jay Bruce, starting in left field, would send Juan Segura home on a triple to extend the Phillies first inning lead to 4-0.

Dugger would settle down, allowing only an unearned run the rest of his 3.1 innings pitched.

Phillies starter Vince Velasquez was tagged for four earned runs in three innings. All four runs came via two long balls, a solo shot by Jesus Aguilar and a three-run shot by Miguel Rojas.

In relief, pitcher Cole Irvin would give up five hits and four runs in just one inning. The Phillies next two pitchers, Reggie McClain and Nick Pivetta, would give up home runs to Corey Dickerson and Brian Anderson.

Philadelphia added two more runs off a Adam Haseley double that scored Gosselin. Haseley got the start at center field and the leadoff batting position after Andrew McCutchen failed to reach base in his first nine at-bats. Haseley made an instant impact, going four-for-six with two runs scored. Gosselin recorded a hit, a run, and a walk in four plate appearances.

NL East Standings

  1. Atlanta Braves (2-1)
  2. Miami Marlins (2-1)
  3. Washington Nationals (1-2)
  4. New York Mets (1-2)
  5. Philadelphia Phillies (1-2)

Highlight Stats

  • With a minimum of eight at-bats, Didi Gregorius leads the team in batting average at .364, going four-for-eleven with two home runs in the series.
  • In six at-bats, all at designated hitter, Phil Gosselin has recorded four hits, two home runs, three runs batted in, and three runs scored, along with two walks. Jay Bruce, the opening day designated hitter, finished two-for-eight with a run batted in after starting in left field on Sunday.
  • Andrew McCutchen had a rough two games before getting Sunday off. The center fielder went 0-for-9 at the plate, failing to reach base and striking out three times from the leadoff position. 24-year-old Adam Haseley made the most of his start on Sunday, going four-for-six with two runs scored in the series finale.
  • Zack Wheeler easily had the best start of the series, giving up five hits and one unearned run over seven innings of work. He earned the win, striking out four batters and walking two, and comes out of the game with a 1.29 ERA.
  • Superstar Bryce Harper had a relatively quiet opening weekend, batting .222 in nine at-bats. He did reach base on four walks for a solid .462 on-base percentage, as well as score two runs and drive in three.

Looking Forward

The Phillies were scheduled to play a four-game interleague home-and-home series with the New York Yankees over the course of the week. The series was slated to start on Monday night, with Philadelphia manager Joe Giradi facing his former team for the first time. However, due to the Phillies weekend proximity to the COVID-infested Marlins, the league postponed Monday night’s matchup.

It’s unclear how the league will proceed with the series or if the two teams will play their scheduled game on Tuesday evening.

Besides the Giradi reunion, the “I-95” series matchup is a rematch of the 2009 World Series.

The Yankees took two of three games from the Washington Nationals on opening weekend, including a six-inning victory on opening night.

More

This article is part of a series on the 2020 Philadelphia Phillies.

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