Bryce Harper plans to send Phillies fans a little message every game


The Phillies rode the power arm of Zack Wheeler and the power bats of Didi Gregorius, Phil Gosselin and JT Realmuto to their first win of the new season on Saturday night.

Wheeler pitched seven innings of the ball in one run and Gregorius (solo home run), Gosselin (two point shot, solo shot) and Realmuto (three point shot) all had a home run in the 7-1 win over the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.

Gosselin, a utility man who teamed up with a late barrage of hitting in summer camp, got the tee off on the designated hitter. He succeeded his first time, succeeded his second time and did his third home run to break a 1-1 draw in the sixth. He homed again in the eighth to give the Phils a six-point lead.

All seven of the Phils’ races were held on circuits.

Gosselin, 31, is from West Chester and has performed at Malvern Prep and the University of Virginia. He played 44 games for the Phillies, his fifth big league club, last season. The multi-circuit match was the first of his career. He entered the day with just seven career home runs in the league’s 597 batting.

Two games after the 60-game sprint, the Phils are 1-1.

Beginning of Helluva

Wheeler brings great power to the Phillies rotation. His 87th and final pitch of the day was a 97 mph fastball for a strikeout in the seventh inning. Someone in the Phillies dugout shouted, “Well done, wheels! As he left the mound after withdrawal.

Wheeler allowed five hits in one run, walked two and struck out four.

Wheeler was able to make the start because her newborn son, Wesley, arrived on Monday, five days earlier.

Off hook

The Phillies’ offense started slowly. This allowed Miami starter Caleb Smith to get away with early in the innings. Smith walked six batters in the first three innings and the Phillies could only muster a single run on a Gregorius home run low in the second. Smith continued to walk three batters in this inning, but the Phils didn’t do anything with that generosity. Smith came out of the inning hitting Bryce Harper watching a 2-2 break ball with the bases loaded.

Harper got his first hit of the season in the seventh and was on the basis for Realmuto’s first hit of the season, which was a three-run long homerun out of the center hitter’s eye. Harper’s hit was a simple bunt on the third baseline against a shift.

Good game

Moments after the Phillies took a 3-1 lead on Gosselin’s two-run homerun in the bottom of the sixth, the Marlins tested Andrew McCutchen’s defense in left field. Left-handed hitter Corey Dickerson hit a cutting line towards the left field line. McCutchen pulled off a nice jump and pulled off a heavy slip catch to keep the leader off base in the seventh and help Wheeler set up a save heat.

McCutchen missed four months last season with an ACL tear. It might not be as smooth as it used to be, but it bridges the gap with some great reads and jumps.

Shortstop Gregorius played well until the end of the eighth and got Tommy Hunter out of trouble.

The Phils’ defense was very good. Wheeler kept the ball on the ground and had four late-inning double plays.

Is Vinny real?

Vince Velasquez secured a berth in the starting rotation by pitching really well during summer camp. He showed off a new cut fastball and improved shift to go with his four seam fastball, power and curveball. Now, it’s time to see if Velasquez can put it all together when the things count. He will start the series final on Sunday afternoon against Marlins right-hander Jose Urena.

Velasquez has been in and out of the Phillies’ rotation for four seasons. It’s time for him to show he can keep his throwing count under control, pass the middle innings and be consistent. In a 60-game season where every game is magnified, the Phillies can’t afford to have a long leash with Velasquez and he needs to lock in his role quickly as best prospect Spencer Howard waits behind the scenes.

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