By Josh Horton
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — For the first time since getting eliminated in the 2018 NLDS, the Atlanta Braves took the field for opening day at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Thursday to match up with the division rival Phillies and newly acquired superstar Bryce Harper.
Despite some flashes, the Braves ultimately fell 10-4 to the Phillies.
On the mound for his sixth consecutive opening day start for the Braves was Julio Teheran to battle against the Phillies’ Cy Young hopeful Aaron Nola. While Nola worked a perfect first inning, things did not go as smooth for Teheran.
Newly acquired Phillie Andrew McCutchen wasted no time making his presence known in his new town as his first swing of the 2019 season resulted in a 428-foot blast to centerfield. The Braves responded to their first inning deficit quickly as a Nick Markakis single through the right side of the infield would score Ronald Acuna Jr. to even the score at 1.
Teheran would settle in a bit and cruise through the next two innings until he ran into some trouble in the fourth, giving up two runs. Teheran ultimately picked up the loss on 5 innings of 3-run, 7-strikeout baseball.
Where Atlanta really came up short on Thursday is with the performance from the bullpen.
After spelling Teheran in the sixth, reliever Shane Carle quickly got into trouble as he would walk two men, and with two outs give up a three-run home run that would put the Phillies up 6-1. While facing a large deficit, the Braves would quickly answer back with a pinch hit two-run homer from last-second spring training acquisition Matt Joyce.
The game would not stay close for long as in the bottom of the seventh Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins would hit a grand slam that would put the game out of reach for Atlanta. The Braves would manufacture a run with a Ronald Acuna Jr. single in the eighth, but it would prove too little, too late.
Aaron Nola picked up the win for the Phillies, going six innings, striking out eight and only allowing one run. Bryce Harper, the $330M man rocking fluorescent green Philly Phanatic cleats, did not record a hit in his first game in a new uniform.
The Braves will send rookie Bryse Wilson to the mound today at 4:05 p.m. to face off against Nick Pivetta for game two of the series in Philadelphia.
Atlanta will stay on the road to face the Phillies Sunday at 7:05 p.m. before hosting the Chicago Cubs Monday night for the home opener.
Josh Horton is the editor of The Chop ATL, an Atlanta Braves blog. He will provide Braves coverage for the season as a contributor for The Covington News. Horton also does gameday market research analysis for the Braves. Follow him on Twitter: @JoshuaHorton05 and find his blog in Twitter: @_TheChopATL.