Bryce goes boom: 465 feet for first Phillies HR

March 31st, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- made his first Phillies moment an unforgettable one.

Harper crushed a solo home run deep into the second deck in right-center field in the seventh inning on Saturday evening at Citizens Bank Park, giving the Phillies a three-run lead in an 8-6 victory over the Braves. The sellout crowd of 44,597 roared from the moment the ball left his bat to the moment it sailed into the stands -- smacking a couple of Braves fans from Tennessee -- to his trot around the bases and his emotionally charged curtain call.

“I was pretty fired up,” Harper said. “I thought they were as well.”

Phillies fans had been imagining this moment since Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million contract on March 1.

It lived up to everybody’s imagination.

Harper had been 0-for-5 with four strikeouts in his career against Braves left-hander Jesse Biddle, who grew up in Philadelphia. Harper caught Biddle when they were teammates for USA Baseball’s Under 18 Team in 2009. They played against each other in Class A.

But this time, Harper finally got Biddle. He turned on a 1-1 fastball.

“His bat speed is just lightning,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said.

The ball left Harper’s bat at 113.7 mph and traveled a projected 465 feet -- his second longest -- according to Statcast. It tied for the Phillies’ second-longest homer since 2015, and the second-longest homer at Citizens Bank Park since '15.

“It was really cool,” Harper said. “Definitely one of the cooler homers I've ever hit. Just the fan base, just the stadium, the electricity we had in this place, it all came together.”

said he could not hear himself think from the on-deck circle as Harper circled the bases. Hoskins made his big league debut in August 2017, and he said he had never heard the Bank louder.

“I think there's more in there," Hoskins said. "We're in March. What happens when we're in September and October?"

Harper touched home plate and bashed arms with Hoskins before turning around to shake his hand one more time. He slapped hands with . He shot arrows into the sky with . He celebrated with another intricate handshake with before making his way into the dugout for more high fives.

“Awesome,” Harper said about these individualized teammate celebrations. “I’m so excited and, I don’t know, I’ve got to add about three more, too, because me and [Jean Segura] don’t have one yet. I’m trying to think of who else. Anyway, it’s really cool, though. It’s pretty much the first time I’ve ever had a handshake with every single one of my teammates. Awesome. Just really, really cool. We have a lot of fun. It’s a great group of guys in here. Just a lot of fun.”

The roar from the crowd continued.

Finally, Harper emerged.

He pumped his arms in the air. He yelled, “Let’s … go!” with “something else in between it.”

Harper used Nick Williams’ bat for the homer. Maybe he will bring it into Sunday night’s series finale. The Phillies are 2-0 for the first time since 2011, when they won a franchise-record 102 games.

“Yeah, it won't be the last time I grab one of my player's bats or anything like that,” Harper said. “I'm known for that, going around, 'Hey, I'll use that one.' If it feels good, I'll use it. I've actually swung that model before, so it's very similar to mine, just a Chandler, so a different company.”

Franco and Realmuto also homered on Saturday. The Phillies have hit a franchise-record six homers in their first two games.

The offense looks like it could be a force with Harper in the middle of it.

“The Realmuto homer, the Franky homer, Rhys' [grand slam] the other day, this place is electrifying, and our clubhouse, our dugout, everybody's pulling for each other,” Harper said. “What a great moment for everybody.”

Franco is the sixth player in Phillies history to homer in each of the team’s first two games of the season. Chuck Klein (1931), Danny Litwhiler (‘43), Mike Schmidt (‘88 and ‘89), Scott Rolen (2000) and Ryan Howard (‘10) are the others. Elias Sports Bureau said no Phillies player has done that hitting eighth or ninth in the lineup.

Franco hit 22 home runs last year. Del Crandall set a big league record with 22 homers out of the eight hole with the 1955 Milwaukee Braves. Spud Davis (‘30) and Andy Seminick (‘48) hold the Phillies’ record with 13 homers out of the eight hole.

Franco also joined Klein (1931) as the only two Phillies (since at least '08) to record three-RBI games in each of the first two games of the season.

Think this Phillies offense isn’t better? It is taking advantage of its scoring opportunities, unlike last season. The Phillies are 6-for-11 with three home runs and 11 RBIs following a walk. tripled to score Odubel Herrera, who walked in the fourth inning. Realmuto homered after Hoskins walked in the fifth.