Phillies: Bryce Harper drills 3-run, 1st-inning home run

Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /

Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper connected with his first home run of the 2020 season on Sunday

Experts around Major League Baseball have set high expectations for Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper this season. Entering Sunday’s season finale, the six-time All-Star’s lone bunt single, three walks, and three strikeouts spanning eight plate appearances had not fulfilled expectations.

However, the tide started turning in the right direction for Harper early on in the Phillies’ third game of the season, facing Marlins rookie starting pitcher Robert Dugger.

After center fielder Adam Haseley and first baseman Rhys Hoskins began the bottom of the first with a single and double, respectively, Harper came up to the plate with a prime scoring opportunity — two runners in scoring position with nobody out. He did not disappoint.

On his first pitch seen, a 91 miles per hour four-seam fastball from Dugger, Harper drilled a three-run home run to the right field seats. The blast was his first homer of the season, his 36th as a Phillie, and the 220th of his nine-year career.

Harper’s blast was not the only runs scored in the first frame of Sunday’s series-decider against the Marlins. Three batters later, third baseman Jean Segura singled to left field, and left fielder Jay Bruce followed with a RBI triple to deep center field to give the Phillies a 4-0 lead. For Bruce, it was his first triple since April 2018 and just the 31st overall of his 13-season career.

The Phillies entered the inning with only five extra-base hits across their first two games — all of which were home runs. The Minnesota Twins were the only other team’s offense that had not yet hit a double. Hoskins’ double and Bruce’s triple quickly changed that narrative.

The start of Sunday’s game featured Dugger up against Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez, making his 100th career start. Jose Urena was supposed to start for the Marlins, but was a late scratch.

The next half-inning, Velasquez gave all the runs back by yielding four earned runs to the Marlins — via a Jesus Aguilar solo home run and a Miguel Rojas three-run home run.