Kate Barrington  |  Sun 31st Mar   | MLB

The Philadelphia Phillies made it two in a row against the Atlanta Braves, recording three home runs – including the first ever crusher from Bryce Harper – on their way to an 8-6 win on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

Harper, the Phillies’ biggest acquisition this offseason, finally scored his first ever homer in a new uniform after sending Jesse Biddle’s fastball into the second deck in right-center field. Phillies fans showered Harper with a chorus of “MVP” chants as he walked towards the home plate. The celebration for Harper continued with a curtain call, which is a rarity in March.

With all the momentum in the world going in the Phillies’ favor right now, the Braves would have to respond in a big way in the third game of their season-opening series.

Manager Brian Snitker will be sending their young hurler Kyle Wright to the mound in an attempt to stop the bleeding in their pitching ranks. The 23-year-old righty will have his first ever start of his career after pitching six innings in a relief role in 2018.

The Phillies will be leaning on former CY Young winner Jake Arrieta to hold off the Braves batter. The 33-year-old veteran is coming off a minor procedure in his knee after a freak injury while lifting weights.

Philadelphia Phillies Team Preview

The Phillies have been as good as advertised so far this season, showing a wide array of weapons on the mound and at the plate.

Third baseman Maikel Franco has been incredible in six at-bats appearance, as he already tallied two homers, three hits, and six RBIs while batting .500. Catcher J.T Realmuto and second-baseman Cesar Hernandez have also been productive so far, while left fielder Rhys Hoskins has been a defensive standout with 17 total chances.

Harper formally introduced himself to the Phillies nation with his first ever homer at Citizens Bank Park. Philadelphia’s $330 million man had compiled 183 homers over seven seasons with the Washington Nationals, yet he already considered Saturday’s 465 feet blast among the favorites of his career.

Atlanta Braves Team Preview

Snitker is very much aware of how explosive Philadelphia offense can be after allowing 18 runs in just two games. Julio Teheran and Wes Parsons had a choke job in their season debut, while the bullpen couldn’t help much either.

Sensing the need for a fresh arm, Snitker is throwing the former no.5 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, Kyle Wright, into the fire. The youngster had a solid Spring Training, in which he struck out 20 batters and walked four in 16.2 pitched innings.

First baseman Freddie Freeman has been hitting really well with .625 batting average and five hits in eight at-bats, while left fielder Matt Joyce has a homer and two RBIs across his name. Unfortunately, the rest of the batting lineup struggled terribly, especially Nick Markakis and Ender Inciarte, who both are batting .125.

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves Betting Pick

We all know the Phillies can explode at any point of the match because of their depth and firepower in their batting corps. Their pitching and fielding are also on point as well, making them virtually bulletproof in the series.

There’s more bad news for the Braves as Arrieta only conceded one homer against their starters in his career. In fact, only Matt Joyce has a batter batting resume against Arrieta with a homer and seven hits. Freeman and Inciarte had four and five hits respectively, while Johan Camargo is batting .667 against Arrieta in just three at-bats.

As for Wright, this would be the first real test of his career, facing off against bona fide sluggers like Harper, Andrew McCutchen and Franco. The key for him in this match is to give the opposing batters a variation of throws. Keep them guessing what’s next, and maybe he can be able to hold off this juggernaut of a team until the seventh inning.

In the real world, the Phillies will once again be too much for the Braves. Harper could be on his way for his second and third homer of the season, while McCutchen could add one more in another lopsided victory for the home team.

Kate Barrington