Phillies vs.  Athletics: Kyle Schwarber sets the tone in Phils' opening day win

Phillies vs. Athletics: Kyle Schwarber sets the tone in Phils’ opening day win

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

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

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

The leadoff spot was a big problem for the Phils in 2021. They had a .302 on-base percentage there, second-worst in the majors. Management went out and signed Schwarber to a four-year, $79 million contract with the idea he’d bring on-base skill and power to the spot.

One game into the new season, he’s all that.

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

The leadoff homer electrified the ballpark.

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

Schwarber was lured from the dugout for a curtain call after the homer.

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

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

The win 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 a four-spot 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 pull away.

“We faced some adversity and then we went out there and kept adding on runs,” Schwarber said. “We strong responded and that’s what it’s supposed to look like. You see the momentum kind of changing there and we put together some really good at-bats. We didn’t fold. We didn’t crumble.”

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

The Phillies’ bats pounded out 11 hits and everybody in the starting lineup had at least one. Phillies hitters drew five walks and made Oakland’s Montas throw 92 pitches in five innings — 33 of them in a four-run third inning.

Manager Joe Girardi loved the “grind” in his offense.

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

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

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

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

But Nola quickly hit a wall in the seventh. He gave up a double, a single and a three-run homer to the first three hitters as the A’s cut the lead to 6-4. Girardi pulled Nola after he hung a full-count curveball to Seth Brown, who smacked it into the seats for a three-run homer.

The first six innings, however, was 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 matchup pitted two teams who used to share the same city. The A’s moved away after the 1954 season. All these years later, the two teams are at the opposite end of the payroll scale. The Phillies put a $240 million product on the field Friday while the A’s roster cost about $45 million.

The Phillies’ expensive roster survived the A’s in this one. There are two more games left in the series. Kyle Gibson pitches for the Phillies on Saturday afternoon against lefty Cole Irvin, a former Phillie.

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