Friday night, the fans at Citizens Bank Park began to chime in with their own opinion, chanting “MVP! MVP!” each time Harper stepped to the plate.
He rewarded them with a titanic Statcast-projected 442-foot blast in the eighth, a two-run home run that proved to be the difference in the 4-2 win over the Mets that vaulted the Phillies into first place in the division for the first time since May 8.
“Whenever you have a fan base that does that -- not just the chants, but just that they show up, especially in these moments -- they make us want to be better,” Harper said. “They make us want to be great. That's why I came here. That's why I wanted to be a Phillie.”
Entering Friday’s game, Harper had an eye-popping .397/.548/.730 slash line in 20 games since the All-Star break, belting three home runs and 12 doubles with eight RBIs and 16 runs scored.
Friday’s home run extended his streak of reaching base safely to 15 games, also giving him a six-game streak with at least one extra-base hit, matching his career high set in 2012.
“You live for those moments and you grind for those moments so that you can perform for your team, for your city, for the fans, for the organization,” Harper said. “It’s just so much fun going out there playing games that matter, playing games that make you emotional, make you super-intense -- but also knowing that you’ve got to flush tonight and go back tomorrow and play them again. That's a tough Mets team.”
Freddy Galvis was all smiles prior to Friday night’s game, happy to be back at Citizens Bank Park in a Phillies uniform for the first time since 2017. Galvis, who has been on the injured list with a right quad strain since late-June, was traded from the Orioles to the Phillies before last week’s Trade Deadline.
“Driving down to the stadium, getting to the parking lot, it was really good,” Galvis said. “Going out there and taking grounders, it was a good moment. … I don’t know why, but I always thought there was a chance to come back here. I always believed that.”
Galvis still must run at full strength before the Phillies will line him up for a rehab assignment, but the 31-year-old infielder believes he’s “getting closer” to a return to action.
Taking it slow
Rhys Hoskins was out of the starting lineup for Friday’s series opener against the Mets, his recent groin injury once again becoming an issue.
“You could see that he wasn't running great when he hit that double," Girardi said, referring to Hoskins’ game-winning hit Thursday in Washington. “Part of that is me telling him to conserve it; I told him, ‘Be smart.’ He's probably going to deal with this for a while; we have to try to keep him good enough to keep him off the IL.”
After missing last weekend’s series against the Pirates, Hoskins pinch-hit on Monday before starting the final three games against the Nationals. He went 5-for-14 (.357) with a homer and five RBIs in the series, but he reported soreness after the series finale, prompting Girardi to sit him for this weekend’s crucial opener.
“Hopefully he's a player for us [Saturday],” Girardi said. “We knew that going through this, we would kind of go day by day. He’s just sore.”
The Phillies held a pregame ceremony Friday to honor David Montgomery, the club’s late president and CEO. Montgomery posthumously received the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
In honor of Montgomery, a new Hall of Fame Awards display was unveiled, with Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton unveiling a framed photo of Montgomery.
Montgomery’s grandsons, Will and Cameron McFall, threw out ceremonial first pitches to Bob Boone and Jimmy Rollins.