SAN DIEGO – Jay Bruce is already a part of Phillies history. The trivia question is this: Who was the only guy to reach base when Roy Halladay pitched the second postseason no-hitter in baseball history?
Bruce is the answer. He drew a fifth-inning walk on a 3-2 pitch with two outs. Halladay retired the first 14 batters before that and the next 13 after it, but that is not what Bruce remembers most about the Phillies’ three-game sweep of his Cincinnati Reds in the 2010 National League Division Series.
“I’m the one who broke up the [Halladay] perfect game, and I also hit my first postseason home run against Roy Oswalt [later] in that LDS,” Bruce said. “But I also missed that ball in the lights [in Game 2]. It was a can of corn. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. You can’t catch what you can’t see, but that changed the momentum completely.”
Nearly nine years later, after being traded Sunday from the Seattle Mariners to the Phillies, Bruce is hoping to make some more Philadelphia baseball history as a member of the team. He joined the Phillies on Monday for the start of their three-game series against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park, and was not in the starting lineup, but he entered the game after center fielder Andrew McCutchen was hurt running the bases in the top of the first inning. Bruce played left field and Sean Rodriguez moved from left to center.
“I’m so happy to be here, man,” Bruce said. “These guys are obviously playing well and playing meaningful baseball, and that’s what I want to be a part of and do what I can to help. I have been on the other side when it was not fun to come to Philly and play, man … and it’s going to be better to be on the other side of it, I’m sure of that.”
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler indicated that Bruce will get a chance to play against some right-handers and left-handers.
“[Bruce] has hit a lot of home runs against lefties in a small amount of at-bats,” Kapler said. “We’re not going to say just because a lefty is on the mound that means Jay Bruce is not in the lineup. In fact, we strongly considered putting him in the lineup [Monday].”
Bruce entered play Monday hitting just .211 against lefties this season, but he had a .950 OPS, thanks to five home runs in 38 at-bats. Overall with Seattle, he was hitting .212 with 14 homers, 11 doubles, and 28 RBIs in 47 games.
“It has been a bizarre season for me so far offensively,” said Bruce, who averaged 30 doubles, 26 homers and 80 RBIs in his first 11 big-league seasons. I think I need to play. I need the season to continue, and I think, at the end of the year, if I play a full season and I’m healthy, you usually pretty much know what you’re going to get.”
Bruce is also excited about being back in the NL after spending all but 90 of his career 1,557 games in the league without the designated hitter.
“The leagues are extremely different,” he said. “This is a much more complex game. A lot more strategy to the NL game and it’s something I’m much more familiar with. I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to what I know.”
Bruce, 32, is not the only member of his family excited about the move from Seattle to Philadelphia.
“My son can’t wait to meet the Phillie Phanatic,” he said.
On April 27, Maikel Franco was hitting .271 with seven home runs , 22 RBIs and a .902 OPS in 27 games. In 30 games since, he has hit .150 with one home run, eight RBIs and a .436 OPS.
Scott Kingery got the start at third base Monday night, marking the fifth time in 11 games that Franco was not in the lineup. It sounds as if Kingery could be getting the lion’s share of playing time going forward, as well.
“He’s hitting a lot of balls on a line and on the ground again,” Kapler said. “When he’s at his best, he is hitting balls in the air to the middle of the field. The outs that he makes are in the middle of the field and to the right side of the diamond in the air. The balls that he barrels are in the gap and driven for base hits and extra-base hits. When he’s not at his best, he mishits balls on the ground and the balls he hits well are low line drives and they get caught.
“When Maikel is at his best, he is our best option [at third base], and, when he’s not at his best, we have to consider other options and I think that’s the responsibility we have to the Phillies,” Kapler said.
Zach Eflin, who missed his Saturday start with a sore back, is expected to return to the rotation Friday night against Cincinnati at home. … Tommy Hunter (strained elbow) will throw a bullpen Tuesday and continue his rehab Wednesday at Clearwater, with a target date of next Monday to throw a live bullpen at Citizens Bank Park.