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April 06, 2015

Nothing goes according to plan as Phillies drop opener to Red Sox, 8-0

Phillies Opening Day
040615_Utley_AP Chris Szagola/AP

CPhillies second baseman Chase Utley.

After a long, cold winter, it was warm, sunny and there was hope in the air. 

Perhaps that’s why the weather in the Philadelphia area on Monday was the perfect metaphor for the 2015 Phillies. Not because everything will be sunny for them this season, but because it took all that frigid, downright miserable weather over the last five months for us to realize just what we were missing. Without it, days like Monday would pass as just another day.

And if it indeed takes a winter for us to appreciate the beauty that is spring, then the same can be said for the Phillies. And soon, the hopeful, blissful spring weather will turn on us, giving way to unbearable heat, the kind will make you pine for those cold days you’re now so quick to put behind you.

Like the weather, the Phillies will turn on us as well. And by the time the dog days of summer arrive, we’ll be begging for the cool, crisp fall temperatures that annually usher in the start of football season. 

Monday, however, we were left with baseball and a false hope that these perfect playing conditions at Citizens Bank Park — as well as the “0” is the Phillies loss column — would remain all year.

Unfortunately, as fans learned with the team's 8-0 loss to the Red Sox, neither* will.

*Temperatures are expected to be much cooler on Wednesday night, around 40 degrees at first pitch, when the Phillies resume their three-game series against Boston.

But that doesn’t mean days like this aren’t to be appreciated. Otherwise, what was the point of suffering through winter?

That being said, here are some observations from the Phillies' first game loss of the season:

Hamels roughed up in first start

STAT LINE: 5 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 4 HR, 6 SO, 3 BB, 100 pitches (64 strikes)

It didn't take long for the Phillies to fall behind, as Dustin Pedroia went deep to left field on the fifth pitch of the game, giving the Sox a 1-0 lead. For Cole Hamels, it was the first of four solo home runs allowed in five innings of work.

Then, in the third, rookie outfielder Mookie Betts, who appeared in 52 games last season, took Hamels out to left to put the Red Sox up 2-0. 

Two innings later, it would again be Pedroia taking Hamels yard, but this time, his solo homer wouldn't be the only one of the inning, as Hanley Ramirez followed two batters later with a solo shot of his own to put the Sox up 4-0. They also essentially ended Hamels' afternoon. He would strike out Pablo Sandoval to end the inning, but that would be all for the Phillies lefty on Monday.

Obviously, the Phillies were facing the team whose name has been most connected to Hamels with regards to a potential trade for the lefty. It's hard to believe one game will sway the opinion of Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, but between Hamels' poor performance and Betts' home run, one can only imagine this wasn't what Ruben Amaro Jr. was hoping for either.

Betts, along with shortstop Xander Bogaerts, were two of the names floated out there along with Hamels, however it seemed as though Cherington was hesitant to move either. And now? Probably even less likely.

For Hamels, he tied a personal worst with the four home runs allowed in a single game. He allowed just 14 all of last season (204.2 innings).

The Red Sox's final four runs would come on swing in the top of the ninth, as Jake Diekman surrendered a grand slam to Hanley Ramirez, his second homer of the day, dashing any hopes for a potential Phillies comeback.

One day after Easter, offense lays an egg

STAT LINE: 3-for-30, 0 R, 9 K, 2 BB, 8 LOB

Perhaps the least surprising thing to come out of the Phillies 8-0 loss to the Red Sox was their lack of offense.

They finished spring training with the worst batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in all of baseball. And on Monday, it wasn't hard to see why.

The Phillies' first hit of the day -- a Ryan Howard double to the alley in left center --  didn't come until the bottom of the fourth inning. Even worse, it would be the only hit they recorded in the first six innings.

In the seventh, Carlos Ruiz got the team's second hit of the day, a single to shallow right field. Grady Sizemore immediately followed with his first hit of the season, a single back up the middle. Ruiz would advance to third -- the first time they had a player 90 feet from scoring -- on Cody Asche's fielder choice to Pedroia at second.

But that would be as close as the Phillies got to scoring on Clay Buchholz, as the next batter, Freddy Galvis, would strike out swinging it what can best be described as a feeble attempt to make contact.

Almost all of the game's top pitchers are in action on Opening Day, meaning most hitters are facing the best their opposition has to offer, which can skew the stats slightly in favor of the defense. But that's a pretty weak excuse.

Still, Buchholz was dominant against the Phillies anemic offense, tossing seven scoreless innings while allowing just three hits and one walk to go with his nine strikeouts.

The Phillies didn't do any better against Boston's bullpen, which combined for two perfect innings to finish the game. 

Aloha, Shane Victorino

Shane Victorino, who made a pair of All Star Games and won a World Series ring with the Phillies, returned to Citizens Bank Park for the first time since being traded to the Dodgers at the 2012 trade deadline.

As expected, the fan favorite received quite an ovation from the sell-out crowd at the Bank.

Victorino finished the day 0-for-3 with a pair of walks. He also made this nice grab in the 

Speaking of old friends, Kyle Kendrick got the Opening Day start for the Rockies, who beat the Brewers, 10-0. Not only did Kendrick strike out six in seven scoreless innings, but he also had a pair of hits, including a double, and scored twice for Colorado.

Go figure...


The Phillies are off on Tuesday and will continue their three-game series against the Red Sox on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Righty Aaron Harang will make his Phillies debut against Williamstown, N.J. native Rick Porcello, who will also be debuting for a new team after spending the first six years of his career with the Tigers.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.