Philly Sports Live

Phillies Get Tomahawk Chopped in Season Opener

The Phillies opened the 2013 campaign in Atlanta against the Braves Monday night. Unfortunately, it was not the start they were hoping for. Cole Hamels, making his first opening day start since 2009, would last just five innings. After a walk to Jason Heyward, first baseman Freddie Freeman took Hamels deep to right field for a 2-0 Braves lead.

The Phils would counter in the top of the second with two men on and a one out threat, but that ended when John Mayberry, Jr. grounded into an inning ending double play.

In the bottom half, second baseman Dan Uggla sent a high, 3-0 fastball to the seats in left, making it 3-0 Braves. The next inning, it was Freeman again with a two out single to score Andrelton Simmons from third who doubled to start the inning.

4-0 Braves after just three innings.

The Phillies finally got on the board in the top of the fourth when Chase Utley led off the inning with solo shot to dead center field for his 200th career long ball. That made it 4-1.

Hamels was in trouble again in the bottom half, but managed to work out of a second and third, one out jam to keep the deficit at three.

The Phils would score again in top half of the fifth inning. Hamels reached on a one out single, followed by a Ben Revere walk. Jimmy Rollins then singled to right field to load the bases. In stepped Utley and he delivered with a two run single to right field, cutting the Braves lead to 4-3. Utley’s hit would chase Braves starter Tim Hudson from the game.

Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez turned to left hander Luis Avilan to face Ryan Howard with runners on second and third with one out. Howard whiffed on three pitches. Following an intentional walk to Michael Young, Domonic Brown would bat next and ground out to end the inning.

Looking for a quick bottom half of the fifth, Hamels gave up a solo home run to new Brave Justin Upton that traveled an estimated 460 feet, and made it a 5-3 Braves lead. Hamels allowed three home runs in a game just once all of last season, he equaled that feet tonight. He finished the fifth and was done for the night, charged with all five runs, seven hits, a walk and five strikeouts.

Chad Durbin would start the sixth for the Phillies, allowing all three men he faced to reach base. A walk, a double, and a single made it 6-3 Atlanta, and Durbin was gone. His ERA on the year stands at infinity. Lefty Jeremy Horst got the call from Charlie Manuel with runners on the corners and nobody out. He was able to induce a ground ball double play that scored one more for the Braves, making it 7-3 heading to the seventh.

It was Utley again in the seventh, hitting the ball in the gap in right center field for a one out triple. He finished the game a double shy of the cycle, and would score on a Ryan Howard ground out, cutting the deficit to three. They would score again in the eighth, with Erik Kratz singling home Mayberry from third to make it 7-5.

Aside from the two runs charged to Chad Durbin, the Phillies bullpen did not allow a run the rest of the way. They would not be able to muster any more offense, getting set down in order in the ninth by Braves all-star closer and former rookie of the year Craig Kimbrel.

The final score was 7-5.

A huge positive on this day was the play of Chase Utley. Coming off two injury riddled seasons, the fan favorite went 3-4 with three RBI and a run scored. Charlie Manuel went with Ben Revere in the leadoff spot, and he would reach base twice and stole a base.

The big negative tonight was Cole Hamels’ performance. He was tagged for three homeruns and threw 89 pitches in just five innings of work. This was not the same Hamels we saw in spring training, throwing some deep counts and leaving the ball out over the plate. He was saddled with the loss, the win going to Braves reliever Luis Avilan, who worked out of a jam in the fifth to earn the victory.

The Phils are off tomorrow, and meet the Braves again on Wednesday night. Roy Halladay, coming off an unsettling spring, is expected to make the start for the Fightins’.

Stats via of Phillies.com