Jay Bruce Instills Confidence in Phillies Team With Big Night
The mood in the Phillies clubhouse was a somber one. Besides losing five straight games, the Phillies learned that their leadoff hitter, Andrew McCutchen, would be out for the season with a torn ACL. It would be easy for the Phillies team to be down on themselves. But enter one Jay Bruce.
When the Phillies acquired Bruce, his role appeared to be a bench player, who might get some starts in left field on days that McCutchen played some center field. The Phillies, already down center fielder Odubel Herrera, found themselves without a natural center fielder on the team. The circumstances now mean that left field is open for Bruce.
Bruce made sure that he made his presence known. Bruce went 3 for 4, with a double and two home runs, including a grand slam, driving in six runs. The numbers are superior. But more importantly, Bruce delivered a message to his new team: they can overcome this injury.
By stepping up in a big way, rookie Adam Haseley, the prospect who is in the major leagues way ahead of schedule, just had to worry about catching the ball in center field and batted eighth. Cesar Hernandez, the former lead off hitter heading back to his old role, did not have to do too much. Scott Kingery was able to play third base and pick up the absent Maikel Franco.
So instead of Haseley feeling like he had to replace McCutchen, Bruce stepped up and almost put it on himself. Roman Quinn could return and play center field, perhaps even before Herrera's administrative leave expires. With Bruce stepping up, center field is less of a worry.
A loss would have meant that the Phillies would have falled out of first place in the National League East, after the Atlanta Braves defeated the PIttsburgh Pirates. But overall, Bruce set an important tone: the Phillies can do this.