Phillies Beat the Padres 8-5 Despite the Absence of Bryce Harper!

Even though they were still upset about Bryce Harper’s sudden departure, the Phillies were able to get their act together enough to beat the Padres.

SAN DIEGO — When Bryce Harper missed a few games at the end of the Dodgers series in Los Angeles in mid-May after getting an injection to treat the torn ligament in his right elbow, Kyle Schwarber noticed something. The Phillies were pressing. Hitters were trying to be someone they were not — Bryce Harper — and they were failing.

The Phillies won their first three games in Los Angeles, but then they lost their next five. Harper came back on May 21, but Schwarber thought it was time to talk.

“We saw some reaching,” he said. “We all talked about it. Let’s just take care of what’s in front of us.”

Now, the Phillies are in a situation they’ve been in before, but this time they’re doing a good job of getting back on track. Harper’s left thumb was broken when a 97 mph fastball hit him in the hand. It has only been 14 innings since then, but the Phillies have made the most of them. In that time, the offense scored 12 runs. Only one runner has made it to second base thanks to the bullpen.

Since they lost Harper for good, the Phillies have won two straight games against the Padres, who are a tough team. On Sunday, when they beat them 8-5, everyone in the lineup helped. Nick Castellanos had four singles and a double. Schwarber hit titanic home runs, which is what he does in June, and the young players like Bryson Stott, Garrett Stubbs, Alec Bohm, and Matt Vierling all drove in runs.

The difference, according to Schwarber, is that players aren’t trying to be Harper. They are trying to be themselves, which Schwarber believes is more than good enough.

Bryce Harper was not present for the Phillies' 8-5 victory over the Padres.
Bryce Harper was not present for the Phillies’ 8-5 victory over the Padres.

“Bryce is his guy,” he said. “[injured second baseman Jean] Segura is his guy. No one can be them. We just have to be the best versions of ourselves and I think that’s the message we’re trying to relay, especially to some of the younger guys, who haven’t seen guys go down before. They don’t have to go out there and do it all in one swing or one defensive play. We just have to take it a step at a time and focus on what’s in front of us at a moment, rather than reach for something more.

“We’ve been down to Harp a few times before,” he said. “We got to try a little bit of it. We all want him in the lineup, so I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but we’ve had him down before. We’ve all been in situations where he wasn’t in the lineup and we had to win a baseball game without him.

The next few series will be a tough test for Schwarber’s theory. The Phillies will face the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals at home. After a series against Washington, they’ll hit the road for St. Louis, and then to Toronto. But for now, they’re savoring a satisfying, if not bittersweet, a series win in San Diego by taking three of four games, hopeful that it could be a harbinger of things to come.

Castellanos with a good day at DH

After Harper’s elbow injury was found out, he was taken out of the right field and put in the DH spot for the Phillies full-time. Before Harper’s elbow, the Phillies’ former manager, Joe Girardi, would switch between different batters. Castellanos was the DH for the Phillies seven times before Harper’s elbow.

Since Harper’s new injury will keep him out for a long time, the DH spot is now open for interim manager Rob Thomson. Thomson said he would switch hitters as Girardi did, and Castellanos was scheduled to be the DH on Sunday.

It went smoothly. Castellanos was hitting.175 on this road trip before Sunday’s game. He went 4-for-5 with all singles. It was his first game with two or more hits since June 17, and his first game with four or more hits since August 21, 2019. None of them were hit very hard, but it was a good sign from a player who has been struggling lately.

Gibson struggles with his command and exits early

Kyle Gibson, who started for the Phillies on Sunday, had not walked or hit a batter in his last two starts. During his start on Sunday, he hit two batters and walked three. During that time, he gave up five earned runs. Almost half of the 61 pitches he made were balls (27).

Gibson had his shortest start as a Phillie. On Sunday, three of the four hits he gave up were hit at 100 mph or faster.

“I was talking about it with Caleb [Cotham] a little bit,” Gibson said of the pitching coach. “I have to go back and watch it. I don’t know that I’ve had that many consistent yanks … it wasn’t like it was missing arm side, missing glove side. It was missing the glove side every time. So, go back and watch the video and try to figure out if there was something mechanically going on. Because physically, I felt great.

“There were flashes of some stuff that looked okay. I had command of my slider for maybe half the time and then even that went away. It was a frustrating outing. But what a great job by Nellie [Nick Nelson] and Alvy [José Alvarado] and [Andrew] Bellatti and [Corey] Knebel coming in and picking me up, and the offense did a great job of battling back. The defense played awesomely. Just a great comeback. We needed it.”

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