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Phillies vs. Athletics: Kyle Schwarber set the tone for Phillies’ win on opening day

Phillies vs. Athletics: Kyle Schwarber set the tone for Phillies' win on opening day

It took Phillies fans seven pitches to fall in love with Kyle Schwarber.

The volatile rookie man made his first offensive with his new club on Friday afternoon.

The Phillies never gave up on Schwarber’s lead and opened the 2022 season with a 9-5 victory over the Auckland A in front of a crowd of 44,232 at Citizens Bank Park.

The lead spot was a big problem for Phils in 2021. They had 0.302 on a percentage basis there, and second worst in the bigs. Management came out and signed Schwarber to a four-year, $79 million contract with the idea that he would bring essential skills and strength to the site.

One game into the new season, it’s all about it.

In addition to leader Homer, who came on the field 3-2 from Oakland starter Frankie Montas, Schwarber walked and ran home on five trips to the plate.

Homer supplied the stadium with electricity.

“What a way to introduce yourself,” said teammate Rhys Hoskins, who has two hits and two RBIs.

Schwarber was lured from the bunker to make a curtain call after Homer.

“That was really cool,” he said. “I couldn’t have written it better for myself.

“It was all special. I’ve always enjoyed coming here as a visiting player. Now to be on the host side and to go out there and play for these fans is special.”

Winning was harder than it should have been.

Aaron Nola ran out of gas in the seventh inning and the defense was ugly with a pair of fouls. Team A put four spots on the board to make it a one-run game, but the Phillies took big hits from Nick Castellanos, Bryson Stott and Schwarber in rounds seven and eight to move away.

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“We had some adversity and then we went out there and just kept working,” Schwarber said. “We responded really hard and that’s what it’s supposed to look like. You see the kind of momentum changing there and we put together some really good hits. We didn’t pull back. We didn’t collapse.”

Jeurys Familia, Brad Hand, Seranthony Dominguez and the new closest Corey Knebel all had major rivalries to keep the win.

Velez’s rackets hit 11 and every player in the starting lineup had at least one. The Velez hitters pulled five walks and had Montas of Oakland shoot 92 shots in five runs – 33 of them in the third by four.

Director Joe Girardi liked the “crunching” of his crime.

“Our squad is dangerous and the shooters will be careful with us,” he said. “The guys had good hits all day. We got a lot of big hits with the runners in the scoring positions.”

In fact, Phils was 6-for-11 with the runners in the scoring center.

Starting his fifth consecutive inaugural day, Nola brilliantly delivered for six innings. He held his A for one stroke only—a Homer single from Chad Bender—during that period and advanced 6-1 to seventh.

Nola only needed 65 shots to get through six runs – and had seven hits against not walking – so sticking with him in the seventh game was an easy call for Gerardi.

But Nola quickly hit a wall on the seventh. Homer relinquished double, singles and three runs to the top three hitters as Team A cut the lead to 6-4. Gerardi pulled Nola after pinning a full-count curve ball to Seth Brown, who hit it in the Homer benches from three runs.

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However, the first six rounds were something Nola should be able to build on.

As a team, the Phils should be able to build on the resilience they’ve shown to survive that ugly seventh.

The opening match featured two teams who shared the same city. Team A walked away after the 1954 season. After all these years, the two teams were at the other end of the pay scale. The Phillies put a $240 million product in the field on Friday while the A-list cost about $45 million.

The expensive A’s Phillies survived this list. There are two remaining games in this series. Kyle Gibson plays for the Phillies on Saturday afternoon against left-winger Cole Irvine, a former Philly.

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