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Phillies swept by Rangers to begin 2023 season

Phillies swept by Rangers to open a season of enormous expectations originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Phillies played a much cleaner game Sunday night against the Rangers in the finale of their first series of 2023, but the result was the same.

They lost, 2-1, and were swept to open a season of huge expectations.

The Phillies are 0-3 for the first time since 2016 and second time since 2007. Neither team hit with men on base Sunday night but the Rangers did slightly more. The Phils went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners.

There was some luck involved — Kyle Schwarber hit a ball 416 feet that landed a step in front of the wall in center field. Josh Harrison laced a deep line drive to right field in the eighth inning that Adolis Garcia raced down. But the story of the night was missed opportunities.

The one run the Phils scored crossed the plate on a Harrison double-play ball. Cristian Pache, making his first start after being acquired Wednesday from the A’s, had a rough game at the plate. He came up with two men aboard in each of his first three at-bats and ended the inning all three times by grounding into a double play, looking at three straight strikes and popping out foul of first. Darick Hall pinch-hit for him with two outs in the ninth and grounded out to end the game. Pache has been heralded for his glove and certainly looks fluid in center field, but he’s made an out 11 of every 13 at-bats as a big-leaguer. He’s 48 for 312 in his career, hitting .154.

The Phillies used a different lineup for Game 3, their first this season against a left-handed starting pitcher. Alec Bohm started at first base for Hall. Edmundo Sosa started at third as Bohm shifted across the diamond. Pache started for Marsh. Harrison started for Jake Cave. Expect to see most or all of the same players in Monday’s lineup against Yankees lefty Nestor Cortes.

Bailey Falter started for the Phillies and did his job, allowing two runs over 5⅓ innings and scattering seven hits. He was aided in the first inning by a brilliant snap throw to second by J.T. Realmuto to nab Marcus Semien attempting to steal. After back-to-back singles to start the game and a leadoff homer by Josh Jung in the second inning, Falter settled in. He’ll be in the Phillies’ rotation for the foreseeable future as they await the returns of Ranger Suarez and Andrew Painter, who both went down in spring training with elbow injuries.

The Phillies look to break the season-opening losing streak Monday night at Yankee Stadium. While a three-game skid to open a season can be jarring, it’s not a huge indicator one way or another. The Phillies swept the Braves to begin 2019 and the Braves won 97 games. The Phillies swept the Braves to begin 2021 and the Braves won the World Series.

Taijuan Walker will be on the mound for his Phillies debut Monday. He is a huge piece of this team as two of the Phils’ top five projected starters are injured and two others have carried league-leading workloads the last five years.

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