Phillies win Rob Thomson’s first game as manager

Phillies win Rob Thomson’s first game as manager

PHILADELPHIA — Kyle Schwarber started the post-Joe Girardi era on Friday with a first-pitch home run to center field.

It continued from there in a 10-0 win over the Angels at Citizens Bank Park. Bryson Stott hit the first home run of his career, a three-run blast in the second. Bryce Harper hit a three-run homer in the fifth. Schwarber and Harper raced again in sixth. Zach Eflin pitched well in eight innings. Nick Maton and Odúbel Herrera made dive catches to deny Mike Trout a few hits.

It was just one game under interim manager Rob Thomson, but maybe President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski’s leadership shakeup sparked something. Maybe it was the kick in the ass the players needed.

“It’s better, because everyone in the clubhouse now knows that [stuff] is not going well, so changes have been made,” Phillies right fielder Nick Castellanos said before the game. “It’s a sad day when someone loses their job because we don’t perform. I take it hard.

“It definitely shakes things up. We’ll see how it goes.

The players said much the same thing after Girardi’s dismissal: someone always takes the fall when a team underperforms, but the blame lies with the players.

“The players are playing,” Rhys Hoskins said. “Coaches don’t play. The players are playing. … At the end of the day, it’s about winning baseball games and we haven’t done enough of that.

“The way I see it is that it always comes down to the players, because it’s us who have to play,” Castellanos said. “If the players played better, we would have more wins and Joe would still have a job.”

Girardi lost his job because the Phillies were 22-29 with a franchise-record payroll. They entered Friday 12 games behind the Mets in the National League East and 5 1/2 games behind the Giants for the third NL Wild Card.

Dombrowski said he thinks a new voice could help save the season. He said Thomson was providing “a different kind of communication with the players about what was going on. I think it was really important for us.

It was an interesting comment. There didn’t seem to be a major problem in the clubhouse with Girardi, like former Phillies managers, where players frequently complained about one thing or another. Girardi was definitely not Charlie Manuel, who was always laughing and joking with his players. But there’s no doubt that Girardi’s decision not to start Corey Knebel on May 24 in Atlanta didn’t go over well. Knebel, Schwarber and Kyle Gibson met with Girardi the following day.

“It all comes down to winning, and we just didn’t do that,” Harper said. “As a team we are also to blame. There’s just no blame on Joe. We didn’t play to the best of our abilities. We didn’t do things to be the team we should be.

“I spoke to Joe this morning after it happened and said thank you. He put a lot of effort, time into this game and into the organization to try to make it great and get us where we need to be. Just wanted to let him know that I was grateful for that because of the time he’s been away from his family, his daughter, his basketball career. I blame the guys for this clubhouse, including me.

Does he think Thomson can help?

“He’s been in the game for a long time,” Harper said. “He’s been around winning teams and winning managers, like Joe Girardi, right? He has been in this organization for five years now. He knows the ins and outs. He brings this new voice, maybe he’s more open now since he’s the manager and not the bench coach. I think we will see more of him.

Thomson joked that every night won’t be as easy as Friday. Managers don’t make too many tough decisions in 10-point wins.

There will be difficult times, but he enjoyed his debut.

“Before the game, I had a little more anxiety before, about everything, about all the meetings,” Thomson said. “Once we got to the game, I felt good. It was normal.”

The players then congratulated Thomson at the clubhouse. It was his first win as a major league manager.

“It was a great way to go out there and respond today and get [Thomson] the first official managerial victory,” Schwarber said. “We told him things. Praise him, things like that. Go ahead and do it again tomorrow, right? He’s a baseball rat. He’s been in the game for a long time. To see him get this opportunity, if it’s not Joe, I think everyone’s really glad it’s him.

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