Bohm's strides a bright spot as Phils fall in opener
ARLINGTON -- The first three innings of the Phillies' 2023 season could not have gone any better. The fourth frame could not have gone much worse.
The Phils teed off on Rangers newcomer -- and old divisional foe -- Jacob deGrom to the tune of six extra-base hits, the most deGrom has allowed in any of his 210 career starts. They also knocked deGrom out of the game before Aaron Nola had even conceded a hit, but that seemingly perfect Opening Day start unraveled quickly en route to an 11-7 loss on Thursday at Globe Life Field.
Though it was only the first game of 162 for the reigning National League champions, there was plenty to like, and obviously, some things to clean up in the season opener.
Let's take a closer look at the good and the not-so-good from Opening Day:
Bohm powers up
When Alec Bohm reported to camp bigger, stronger and with an improved approach at the plate after a productive offseason, many wondered if it would lead to a breakout offensive season, particularly from a power standpoint.
That speculation gained steam after he hit three homers in his first six games this spring, but it slowed a bit when he hit just one over his final 14 Grapefruit League contests.
Bohm brought that topic back to the forefront Thursday when he turned on a 99.3 mph offering from deGrom for a two-run opposite-field homer. Not only had Bohm never homered off a pitch faster than 96.9 mph, but he entered the day just 14-for-63 (.222) with 26 strikeouts against pitches 97 mph or faster.
“He started off the spring really good, and then he went through some fatigue toward the middle and toward the end,” manager Rob Thomson said of Bohm, who went 3-for-4 with a double, a homer, three RBIs and two runs. “But it looks like he's fresh now. He’s swinging the bat good.”
Turner gets running start
Trea Turner wasted no time showing the impact he can have with his speed, legging out an RBI triple in the third, then racing home on a wild pitch. He reached a sprint speed of 29.4 feet per second on the triple before hitting 30.2 feet per second on his dash to the plate (30.0 is considered elite, per Statcast).
Turner certainly provides a different look atop the lineup than Kyle Schwarber, who hit an NL-best 46 home runs last year while serving primarily as the leadoff hitter.
“Top to bottom, we kind of all contributed in multiple innings -- it was just kind of relentless,” Turner said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get the job done, but I felt like there were a lot of positives.”
Nola's fourth inning
The same can be said for Nola’s outing, which began with three hitless innings. Yet despite being staked to a 5-0 lead -- and with deGrom knocked out of the game in the top of the fourth -- Nola lost his command in the bottom half of the frame.
Nola allowed five of the first six batters to reach, capped off by a Robbie Grossman game-tying three-run homer off a fastball that Nola left up over the middle of the plate. Nola bounced back to retire Brad Miller, but that would end his day after 72 pitches -- 31 of which came in that fourth inning.
“A lot of pitches, getting behind guys,” said Nola, who was making his sixth straight Opening Day start. “Left some balls over the plate and up a little bit. Stuff just started leaking over the plate.”
Nola handed the ball to Gregory Soto, who failed to record an out in his Phillies debut. The newcomer loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a bloop single before Nathaniel Lowe hit a dribbler in front of the plate for an RBI infield single.
“Honestly, I felt a little unlucky today,” Soto said through an interpreter. “That soft hit, the blooper -- there were a couple plays that could have gone in our favor, but they didn’t.”
That seemed to be the theme for the Phillies in their season opener -- well, for the final six innings anyway.
“Probably trying to do a little bit too much. It's opening night,” Thomson said. “Let's get all that stuff out of the way and move on to Saturday.”