Game 2 of the Philadelphia Phillies-Atlanta Braves doubleheader Sunday started out with quite a bit of excitement for the debut of Phillies righty Spencer Howard.
Though Howard flashed what made The Athletic‘s Keith Law suggest that he could be a “really good No. 2 starter for a long time,” he dealt with more of what has plagued Phillies pitchers in recent seasons – struggles to get by Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ronald Acuña Jr.
- You’re not truly a Phillies pitcher until you surrender a home run to Freeman. Spencer Howard joined the club in the top of the third inning, when Freeman hit his 23rd career home run against the Phillies, a two-run shot to the opposite field:
- In the top of the fifth inning, Acuña Jr. hit a ball that carried out of the yard, his second home run in as many games:
- Though you could sense John Kruk warming up, Bryce Harper popped up with the bases loaded to end the fifth inning. It was a struggle for the Phillies offensively today.
- The Braves blew the game open in the top of the sixth, with Acuña Jr. launching a two-run home run off of Trevor Kelly, his second opposite field shot of the day:
- Freeman kept pace with Acuña Jr., as he welcomed Austin Davis into the game by smoking a double into left-center field to bring home Dansby Swanson. The Braves would get up to eight runs on the day before the inning ended, with Marcell Ozuna plating Freeman with an RBI single.
- Major league pitchers with much more experience than Howard have struggled against Acuña Jr. and Freeman, especially if they’ve been employed by the Phillies. Howard did allow home runs to the aforementioned duo, and left the game after 4.2 innings with Freeman standing on third base, after what should have been a double turned into a triple with Bryce Harper tripping in the dirt down the right field foul line.
- Trevor Kelley inherited the runner on third base, and gave up an RBI double to former Phillies farmhand Travis d’Arnaud, a run charged to Howard’s line. In total, Howard gave up seven hits and four runs over 4.2 inning, with the big blows coming in the form of two home runs.
- Howard, who Phillies Nation ranked as the top prospect in the organization in February, did flash some filth in his first start, striking out four:
- Fried, probably the best remaining pitcher the Braves have right now, struck out six and held the Phillies scoreless over five innings. His final act of the day was getting Bryce Harper to hit a fly ball to center field to escape a bases-loaded jam unscathed.
- With all due respect to Freeman, more than deserving here, Acuña Jr. hit two monster home runs to right field, and added two singles as well. He’s under contract through 2026, with the Braves holding options for 2027 and 2028.
- Monday, Aug. 10, 2020 vs. Atlanta Braves
- TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia, FS1
- Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP
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