Phillies v Athletics: Kyle Schwarber sets the tone in Phils’ Day 1 win

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

The slugging front man went deep in his first at bat with his new club on Friday afternoon.

The Phillies never gave up the lead provided by Schwarber and they opened the 2022 season with a 9-5 win over the Oakland A’s before a sold-out crowd of 44,232 at Citizens Bank Park.

First place was a big deal for the Phils in 2021. They had a .302 on-base percentage there, second-worst in the majors. Management came out and signed Schwarber to a four-year, $79 million deal with the idea that he would bring skill and power on the spot.

A game in the new season, it’s all that.

In addition to his first home run, which came on a 3-2 pitch from Oakland starter Frankie Montas, Schwarber walked and scored a run at home in five trips to the plate.

The first home run electrified the ballpark.

“What a way to show up,” said teammate Rhys Hoskins, who had two hits and two RBIs.

Schwarber was lured out of the dugout for an encore after the circuit.

“It was really cool,” he said. “I couldn’t write it better for myself.

“Everything was special. I’ve always loved coming here as a visiting player. Now being at home and playing for these fans is special.”

The victory was more difficult than it had to be.

Aaron Nola ran out of gas in the seventh inning and the defense got ugly with a pair of errors. The A’s put four runs on the board to make it a one-run game, but the Phillies got big hits from Nick Castellanos, Bryson Stott and Schwarber in the seventh and eighth innings to retire.

“We faced some adversity and then went out there and kept adding points,” Schwarber said. “We responded strong and that’s what it’s supposed to look like. You see the momentum changes there and we put together some really good batsmen. We didn’t fold. We didn’t fall apart. “

Jeurys Familia, Brad Hand, Seranthony Dominguez and new closest Corey Knebel all got big outs to preserve the win.

The Phillies bats hit 11 hits and everyone in the starting lineup had at least one. The Phillies batters walked five and forced the Oakland Montas to 92 pitches in five innings, including 33 in a four-run third inning.

Manager Joe Girardi liked the “grind” in his attack.

“Our lineup is dangerous and the pitchers are going to be careful with us,” he said. “Guys had great bats all day. We had a lot of hits with runners in scoring position.”

Indeed, the Phils were 6 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

Making his fifth straight start on Opening Day, Nola pitched brilliantly for six innings. He held the A’s to just one hit — a Chad Pinder solo homer — in that span and took a 6-1 lead in the seventh.

Nola needed just 65 pitches to go six innings — and he had seven strikeouts to no walks — so sticking with him for the seventh inning was an easy decision for Girardi.

But Nola quickly hit a wall in the seventh. He allowed a double, a single and a three-run homer to the first three batters as the A’s cut the lead to 6-4. Girardi fired Nola after hooking a curveball to Seth Brown, who hit her in the seats for a three-run homer.

The first six innings, however, were something Nola should be able to build on.

As a team, the Phils should be able to build on the resilience they showed surviving that ugly seventh.

The opening day game was between two teams that shared the same city. The A’s moved after the 1954 season. All these years later, both teams are on the opposite end of the pay scale. The Phillies put $240 million in proceeds on the field Friday while the A-list fetched about $45 million.

The Phillies’ expensive roster outlived the A’s in this one. There are two games left in the series. Kyle Gibson will pitch for the Phillies on Saturday afternoon against left-hander Cole Irvin, a former Phillies.

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