PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — After a season that fell well short of expectations, Bryce Harper can’t wait for another go-round in Philadelphia. Manager Gabe Kapler might not get that chance.
Harper got two hits and a standing ovation to close out his first season with the Phillies, who finished at 81-81 after a 4-3 loss to the Miami Marlins on Sunday.
Harper drew a cheer from the crowd at Citizens Bank Park after a flyout in the ninth inning. Signed to a $330 million, 13-year contract, he wound up batting .260 with 35 homers and 114 RBIs.
“I tried to play hard for them, tried to play to the best of my ability,” Harper said of Philadelphia’s notoriously demanding fans. “The fans and the city deserve that. I love this place. I’m excited to see what’s ahead.”
Brad Miller hit a pair of homers for Philadelphia, which ended a run of six straight losing campaigns but that might not save Kapler. He is on the hot seat after going 161-163 over two seasons.
Miller became the first player with three multi-home run games in a nine-game span in Phillies history, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
“Expectations were high and we didn’t get the job done, but it wasn’t for lack of effort,” Kapler said.
The manager deflected all questions about his future with the Phillies.
Philadelphia had high hopes at the outset of the season after signing Harper, Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson and trading for star catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Jean Segura.
Harper and Realmuto delivered, but Robertson pitched in just seven games before an elbow injury and McCutchen’s promising season ended in early June with a knee injury.
“There was some incredible adversity, but they kept getting back up,” Kapler said.
The Phillies had a big hump in attendance this season to 2,727,421 from 2,158,124, their highest since 2013. They started with a three-game home sweep of NL East champion Atlanta in front of packed houses that had the feeling of a return to 2007-11, when Philadelphia captured five straight NL East titles, including the franchise’s second World Series championship in 2008.
Parker was one of seven relievers used by Philadelphia in a bullpen-by-committee game after Kapler decided to shut down ace Aaron Nola, who originally was scheduled to start, following his last outing.
The Phillies closed within 4-3 in the seventh on the second of Miller’s drives.
The Phillies had high hopes at the outset of the season after signing Harper, Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson and trading for star catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Jean Segura.
Harper and Realmuto delivered, but Robertson pitched in just seven games before being shelved with an elbow injury and McCutchen’s promising season ended in early June with a knee injury.
The Phils saw a slight jump in attendance this season, to 2,727,421 up from 2,158,124. They started with a season-opening, three-game home sweep of the Braves in front of packed houses that had the feeling of a return to 2007-11, when Philadelphia captured five straight NL East titles, including the franchise’s second World Series championship in 2008.
Realmuto, whose season was cut short due to knee surgery on Friday, batted .275 with 25 homers and 83 RBIs.
“I know as a team we’re going to try to get better,” Harper said.
Starlin Castro homered and doubled, and Martin Prado and Isan Diaz also went deep for the Marlins (57-105), who finished with a losing record for the 10th straight season. Miami came within three losses of tying the 1998 club for most defeats while reaching 100 losses for the third time in the franchise’s 27-year history.
“It’s been two straight years of taking our lumps but gaining experience,” said manager Don Mattingly, who will return for a fifth season. “It’s time for us to start turning the corner and being more competitive.”
Sandy Alcantara (6-14) allowed one run and eight hits in six innings while setting a club rookie record for starts in a season with his 32. Tyler Kinley got two outs for his first save.
After second-inning homers by Castro, who played in every game this season, and Diaz off Blake Parker (3-3) put Miami in front, Prado made it 4-0 with a solo shot in the third.
Parker was one of seven relievers used by Philadelphia in a bullpen-by-committee game after Kapler decided to shut down ace Aaron Nola, originally was scheduled to start,.
The Phillies to 4-3 in the seventh on the second of Miller’s drives.
Prado, whose contract is up with Miami, was lifted prior to the ninth inning to a standing ovation from his teammates and the Phillies. The 35-year-old has played for 14 seasons, the last five with Miami. His third-inning homer was the 100th of his career.
A SCHEUER THING
Longtime Associated Press correspondent Jack Scheuer, 87, retired following the game after 46 years covering the Phillies, 76ers and Philadelphia college basketball. The Phillies had a cake and a ceremony to honor his work.
A member of the Big 5 Hall of Fame, Scheuer is well known in Philadelphia press boxes for his trivia questions. He’s also respected for a sweet set shot in pickup hoops games at the Palestra.
More than that, he is well respected for his humility and kindness.
“I’m kind of a friendly guy, I guess,” Scheuer said. “I like to get along with people. It’s not that hard, I think. Just treat people nice. I’ve appreciated all of the friendships, especially today.”
For everything. pic.twitter.com/oj3fYwbeDx
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) September 29, 2019
Scheuer has covered more than 3,500 Phillies games, including an eight-year stretch where he didn’t miss a home game. The 1980 World Series victory was his highlight, and some of his favorite Phillies to cover were Manny Trillo and Darren Daulton.
Before computers, Scheuer would hand-write a story on paper and dictate it to an operator in New York. He then would get quotes from players and coaches, compose the story in his head on his one-hour drive home and call in with another story for the next day’s afternoon newspapers.
Times have changed, of course, and Scheuer says technology and analytics are the biggest differences from when he first started covering baseball. Even with all of the change, Scheuer never has lost his passion for the games or his job.
“It’s been a labor of love all these years covering basketball and baseball, my two favorite sports,” he said. “It has been a great pleasure.”
The Phillies and Marlins will open the 2020 season playing each other in Miami on March 26.
(©Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)