Phillies superb defense on display in Opening Day victory

Didi Gregorius #18 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Didi Gregorius #18 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /

After a below-average 2020 season in terms of their defense, the Philadelphia Phillies showed signs of improvement in their 3-2 season-opening victory against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.

Phillies manager Joe Girardi emphasized after the game that defense was a focal point of spring training this year. Outside of Rhys Hoskins‘ sixth-inning blunder at first base, the Phillies defense was sound and the work they put in down in Clearwater showed right away.

The Phillies defense shined in their season-opening victory against the Braves.

Alec Bohm had one of the most notable performances in the field. In the second inning, he charged a dribbler and made a nice throw on the run — which Hoskins picked at first base for the out. Bohm also saved the day with a leaping grab in the sixth, with runners on second and third base. That certainly would’ve been a tougher catch if he wasn’t 6-foot-5, but it was still an incredible catch, nonetheless.

It was encouraging to see this from the 24-year-old and 2020 Rookie of the Year Award finalist, after he made four errors in 38 games last season. Bohm wasn’t exactly known for his defense in the minors, with 21 errors in 112 games at the hot corner. A question remains whether Bohm can do this for a full, 162-game season, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Staying on the left side of the infield, fans got to see Didi Gregorius show out again with a terrific over-the-shoulder grab in the ninth inning — in spite of the wind. This wasn’t anything new as, Didi flashed the leather often last season. He’s one of the most fun shortstops to watch in today’s game and figures to be a major part of this team’s postseason chase.

Roman Quinn replaced Adam Haseley in the top of the eighth and made one of the biggest plays of the day. On a pop fly in the top of the 10th, Quinn went behind the ball and built momentum on his throw toward home — which carried J.T. Realmuto right into Ozzie Albies for the double play. This play ultimately kept the score tied and set up Jean Segura’s walk-off single.

According to Daren Willman, Quinn’s throw from center was 96.3 miles per hour. It might’ve been a “bouncer,” but Quinn got velocity behind it and made an accurate throw. Realmuto also made a phenomenal play by just hanging onto the ball on the collision. It was reminiscent of Cameron Rupp hanging on to Tyler Goeddel‘s throw from left field back in 2016. Fans might’ve also been reminded of Quinn’s throw to Didi, who cut it off and threw home to Andrew Knapp — who held on for a Sunday Night Baseball win in 2020.

Phillies fans can only hope this strong defense carries over into the rest of the 2021 season. It’s a good sign, but Girardi and his staff should continue to nail down the little things on defense with this club.

We’ll get another look in Game No. 2 on Saturday at 4:05 p.m.

More. Jean Segura lifts Phillies to walk-off Opening Day win. light