”It was nice to score six runs, but I’d like to see us string three or four hits together,” Phils manager Pete Mackanin said. ”I don’t think we can rely on home runs.”
By Sam Bush
In case Phillies Nation hadn’t noticed it, the optimism of a successful spring training for turned to the grim reality of the regular season:
The Phils were swept in a three-game series in Cincy and they looked like minor leaguers in the process.
Jay Bruce homered twice and matched a career high with five RBIs, and the Reds made a winner of top pitching prospect Robert Stephenson in his major league debut by beating the Phillies 10-6 to complete a season-opening sweep.
With his two home runs, Bruce increased his career total to 210, tying Griffey for seventh place on the franchise list. Of course, the Hall of Fame outfielder also hit 417 for the Seattle Mariners and three more with the Chicago White Sox.
Eugenio Suarez hit his first career grand slam and Bruce connected for a three-run shot as the Reds scored eight times in the fourth inning, ruining the big league debut of reliever Daniel Stumpf. Bruce capped the 13-batter outburst with an RBI single.
Cincinnati manager Bryan Price believes the work Bruce did in spring training is paying off after consecutive sub-.230 seasons.
”He put a lot of work in to close some holes in his swing,” Price said. ”I know he was disappointed in his last two seasons.”
Cedric Hunter hit a leadoff homer in the fourth and Ryan Howard had a two-run shot in the fifth for the Phils. Carlos Ruiz added a two-run homer in the eighth, but manager Pete Mackanin would prefer to see more consistency on offense.
The Reds are 3-0 for the second consecutive season. They swept a three-game series from Pittsburgh and added a win over St. Louis to open 2015.
The loss was Philly’s eighth straight in Cincinnati, the team’s longest skid in the Queen City since a nine-game stretch at now-demolished Riverfront Stadium that spanned 1976-77.
The Phillies are 0-3 for the first time since 2007. They have dropped seven in a row overall to the Reds, the most since an eight-game slide in 1996.
Philly was swept in a season-opening road series for the first time since April 2000 at Arizona.
Bruce hit his first homer of the season off starter Charlie Morton (0-1), who allowed five hits and six runs over 3 2/3 innings in his Phillies debut. Morton is winless in six April starts since 2012.
”I felt like I was getting in trouble out of the stretch,” Morton said. ”I don’t know if it was (because it was) the second time through (the lineup). I was struggling out of the stretch. I felt like I was getting ahead. Then I started getting into deep counts. Got into a deep count with Bruce and I threw a change-up right down the middle. It was just a bad pitch.”
Morton snapped a 0-for-29 slump by leading off the third with an infield single to shortstop. Morton scored on Howard’s two-out single, but only after Bruce bobbled the ball in right field for Cincinnati’s first error of the season.