The raucous ovation Bryce Harper got from Philadelphia Phillies fans at the start of the game quickly turned to boos after he struck out twice on Opening Day.
If Bryce Harper expected a warm reception in his Philadelphia Phillies debut on Thursday, he was right, at least for a little while. It took just five innings, though, for the fans to turn on him.
Harper went 0-3 in the Phillies 10-4 Opening Day win against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park, striking out twice and drawing a walk.
Harper got a standing ovation when he walked out to right field to begin the game, but the good feelings did not last. He grounded out in his first at-bat, then struck out in the fourth inning. He came into the game hitting .450 for his career against Braves starter Julio Teheran, but Teheran refused to give him anything to hit, throwing him five straight sliders.
Harper finally got a fastball in the fifth inning but struck out swinging. Some Phillies fans, who were so welcoming at the start, began to boo as Harper walked back to the dugout.
This type of reception is something Harper is going to have to get used to. These are the same fans who once threw snowballs at Santa Claus. They expect a lot out of Harper after the 26-year-old signed a then-record 13-year, $330 million contract on March 2.
Harper, though, only focused on the positive fan reaction after the game. “Yeah, I think the whole team felt it. Just the energy there was in the ballpark today,” he said. “The atmosphere was unbelievable today. The place was rocking all throughout the game.”
Harper may have struggled at the plate in his Phillies debut, but he still played a role in the team’s offense. After Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura reached base to lead off the seventh inning, Harper was intentionally walked to load the bases. Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins then hit a grand slam to left field to seal the victory.
Although Harper didn’t collect a hit, a former National League MVP did make a good first impression with the Phillies fans. McCutchen hit a lead-off homer in the bottom of the first, sending a Teheran fastball 430 feet to center field. Segura, another Phillies acquisition this offseason, finished the game with two hits and two runs scored.