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Phils' turnaround falls short, but offers hope

MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Exactly one year ago Saturday, the Phillies lost their fourth straight to open the regular season. And it wasn't just that. They'd scored more than two runs only once. They'd been outscored, 26-12.

The Phillies lost their home opener Friday. The 7-6 setback to the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park dropped their record to 1-3. The sellout crowd was not amused, at least until the offense mounted a comeback against ace right-hander Max Scherzer and the Washington bullpen that just fell short.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Exactly one year ago Saturday, the Phillies lost their fourth straight to open the regular season. And it wasn't just that. They'd scored more than two runs only once. They'd been outscored, 26-12.

The Phillies lost their home opener Friday. The 7-6 setback to the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park dropped their record to 1-3. The sellout crowd was not amused, at least until the offense mounted a comeback against ace right-hander Max Scherzer and the Washington bullpen that just fell short.

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It's just four games whose importance are magnified by the fact that they came at the start of the season. Sometimes that's easy to overlook in the moment, though. Sometimes it's helpful to have a handy reminder of how quickly things can turn around.

Video: WSH@PHI: Altherr hits a two-run home run to right

There's no way of knowing what will happen next. That's one of the joys of baseball. But the Phillies only have to look back as far as last season for a concrete example of how unreliable a yardstick the first handful of games can be. After losing to the Mets on April 8, 2016, they promptly won 22 of their next 33.

Manager Pete Mackanin knows that. No matter what the final score had been, he wouldn't have overreacted to such a small sample. And the fact that the team did rally only adds to his conviction that better times are ahead.

"To be down, 7-0, with Scherzer pitching and for the guys to come back the way they did, including against their closer [Blake Treinen], is a good omen for things to come," he said.

That sentiment was echoed by several other Phillies who were in the lineup at Citi Field a year ago, mainstays like third baseman Maikel Franco, second baseman Cesar Hernandez and shortstop Freddy Galvis.

"We needed [to come back]," said Franco, batting .125 after going hitless in four at-bats. "Sometimes this happens. It's part of the game. [Saturday] we just turn the page and try to do everything we can do to win the game."

"It helps because you don't really think about that [after what happened last season]," Hernandez said. "Obviously, you want to win. No one wants to lose. No one likes to lose. But our mindset was to go out and make something happen and put up a fight. And we did that."

Said Galvis: "It was a tough loss. We wanted to win, especially in the home opener. We just have to keep fighting and playing hard every day, and I think everything is going to be all right. We showed we can fight. We didn't get the win, but tomorrow's another day."

The Phillies have played four games, including their home opener Friday. They haven't gone as well as everybody might have hoped. But they have 158 left to play and a fresh memory of just how quickly things can turn around.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com.

Philadelphia Phillies