Phillies History: Starting Back to Back
By Matt Veasey
This month at TBOH has been Philadelphia Phillies History Month, with a special emphasis on historic players and teams, and some of their interesting accomplishments and records.
Today we’re going to take a look at those times in club history where the Phillies offensive lineup produced back-to-back home runs to start a ball game.
The Major League Baseball record for this accomplishment is three, done just once in the game’s history. That one time was, amazingly, by the San Diego Padres back in 1987, and there were a couple of Phillies connections.
On April 14th, in their home opener at Jack Murphy Stadium, the Friars received back-to-back-to-back homers to start the bottom of the 1st inning from Marvell Wynne, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, and finally by future popular Phillies star John Kruk.
That game was also notable as, in his very first home game as the Padres’ new manager, Phillies franchise icon Larry Bowa was ejected while arguing a call in the 6th inning. Imagine that. Also perhaps incredibly, the Padres lost that day, dismantled by the San Francisco Giants by a 13-6 score.
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The Phillies have never hit three home runs to start a game, but they have hit back-to-back homers five times, all done within the last 30 years or so.
The first time was on July 29th, 1984 at Veteran’s Stadium. With a big crowd of more than 40,000 on hand to watch the defending NL champion Phils take on the talented Montreal Expos, both Juan Samuel and Von Hayes homered off Expos’ starter Bill Gullickson. The Phillies would ultimately win that game 6-4 on a walkoff, 2-run homer by Len Matuszek off Jeff Reardon.
Two years later, on July 7th, 1986, Samuel was again involved, this time as the #2 hitter in the lineup. Gary Redus led off that game with a homer at The Vet off Atlanta Braves starter David Palmer, and Sammy followed suit. The Phillies would again win by 7-3 in that one.
It would be another decade before it would happen again. On April 16th, 1996 it was Lenny Dykstra and Mickey Morandini going back-to-back off Jose Paniagua to start the game at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. The host Expos would ultimately win that one by 7-6 on a walkoff single off the bat of Moises Alou.
Eight years later, on September 9th, 2004 it would be Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco going deep to open the game against Atlanta Braves starter Russ Ortiz. Those Phils would pull away to a 9-4 victory as they battled for an NL Wildcard berth, a battle they would fall short in, ultimately costing Bowa his job as the skipper.
The last time that the feat has been accomplished to this point in franchise history would come on May 18th, 2014, and it is also the only time that the Phillies have received back-to-back homers to start a game at Citizens Bank Park. On that day it was JRoll and Wil Nieves, of all people, going deep off Cincinnati Reds starter Tony Cingrani in an 8-3 victory.
There you have it, the five times that the Phillies have started a game with back-to-back jacks. If recent history is any barometer, we may not see it happen again until the early 2020’s, when maybe someone like J.P. Crawford will be involved. Then again, it could happen on Opening Day of 2016. That’s part of the beauty of the game, you never know when something historic might happen.