All that was missing Thursday night, after the Phillies rallied from seven runs down and routed the Chicago Cubs, 17-8, was Bryce Harper standing in the middle of the field, holding his bat aloft, and shouting four words to the fans at Citizens Bank Park.
Well, are you?
The Phillies don’t win normally. They blew two saves Wednesday night en route to a 6-5 walk off victory on a passed ball, of all things. Then, according to StatsBySTATS, they became the first National League team in the modern era to win a game by at least nine runs after trailing by at least seven.
But this being the Phillies, there was a catch (no pun intended). Star catcher J.T. Realmuto left the game after being hit by a pitch in the left triceps. X-rays were negative, but he’s swollen and sore. It’s not clear yet whether he will be able to play Friday night in the opener of a three-game showdown against the Mets in New York.
Realmuto’s importance as the primary lineup protection for Harper can’t be understated. He tied the game at 7 with a two-run single after Harper walked in the fourth inning.
“I don’t know what his availability will be [Friday],” manager Joe Girardi said. “They’re treating it now and everything, and they’re trying to get the swelling out. I won’t know until I get to the park.”
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Didi Gregorius told Matt Breen that he thinks a COVID-19 vaccine caused the pseudogout condition in his right elbow that has led to his career-worst season. Medical experts say he’s incorrect.
Harper’s leadoff double in the Phillies’ seven-run fourth inning, after the Cubs hung a seven-spot on them in the third, was a huge hit.
If the Phillies miss the postseason, one of the biggest shames will be that they wasted an MVP-caliber season from Harper.
Don’t miss Yong Kim’s photo gallery from another wild game at Citizens Bank Park, especially the shot of Jean Segura sliding across the plate with the tying run.
Tonight: Zack Wheeler vs. Mets righty Taijuan Walker in New York, 7:10 p.m.
Tomorrow: Aaron Nola vs. ex-Phillies prospect Carlos Carrasco, 7:15 p.m.
Sunday: Kyle Gibson vs. Mets lefty Rich Hill on Sunday Night Baseball, 7:08 p.m.
Monday: Ranger Suárez starts at home vs. the Orioles, 7:05 p.m.
Stat of the day
Harper insists he doesn’t so much as peek at his numbers until the end of a season. Sorry, Bryce, spoiler alert: He’s batting .314, with a .428 on-base percentage, .627 slugging, and 33 home runs.
It would mark Harper’s second .300/.400/.600, 30-homer season. He reached those levels in 2015, his MVP year for the Washington Nationals. But it would be only the seventh .300/.400/.600, 30-homer season in Phillies history, joining Ryan Howard (2006), Mike Schmidt (1981), Chuck Klein (1929, 1930, 1932), and Lefty O’Doul (1929).
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter @ScottLauber.
Question: Love the newsletter. Keep up the good work. Already thinking about next year. Didi was a major disappointment this year, but do you think he can play third base next year, allowing us to bring up Bryson Stott to play shortstop? [Alec] Bohm to first and Rhys [Hoskins] DH? Improves the defense? And assuming [Andrew McCutchen’s] salary comes off the books, any chance we can sign Kris Bryant to join his buddy Bryce in the outfield? Or would salary have to be moved to make that happen? If so, is [Jean] Segura and his [$14.85] million dollar salary a trade candidate? — Roger A., via email
Answer: Thanks, Roger. Wow. There’s a lot to unpack in there. I’ll say this: It’s difficult to see the Phillies sticking with the status quo on the left side of the infield. But Stott isn’t likely an opening-day option at shortstop. Maybe later in the season. But I was recently talking to a rival scout who wondered if his future isn’t at second base.
So much will depend on where the Phillies decide to play Bohm. If the DH comes to the National League, it’s easy to say that either Bohm or Hoskins should fill that role. But the DH is increasingly becoming a revolving door for teams to give players a rest. The Phillies might want to use that spot for Realmuto a few times a week to keep his bat in the lineup and lighten his load behind the plate.
A major-league roster is like a jigsaw puzzle. Given the Phillies’ infield personnel, it’s not clear how the pieces will fit together.