Realmuto catching fire the way Phils expected

Catcher homers and has 3 RBIs as Philly takes series from Giants

August 1st, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- is one of the players to whom Phillies general manager Matt Klentak referred on Wednesday, less than an hour after the Trade Deadline, when he said their star players need to carry them to the postseason.

Realmuto has been playing the part recently, continuing his strong stretch by going 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs in Thursday afternoon’s 10-2 victory over the Giants at Citizens Bank Park.

“We feel like we’ve underperformed to this point in the season,” Realmuto said.

“Collectively, as a team, we’ve had guys that have stretches that were really good, but we haven’t really clicked all together at the same time yet. We feel like we have the guys in this clubhouse to get it done. We just have to come together, play well together and get things rolling.”

It was the first time in nearly two months that the Phillies won a series against a team with a winning record, after previously taking two of three from the Padres in a June 3-5 series in San Diego. Thursday’s victory moved the Phils (57-51) into a second-place tie with the Nationals in the National League East, 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Braves. It also moved them into a three-way tie for the second NL Wild Card spot, with the Nats and the loser of Thursday night’s game between the Cubs and the Cardinals.

The Phillies have the opportunity to get on a roll here. They play eight of their next 11 series against teams with losing records, and they finish the season with five of six series against teams with winning records right now.

Realmuto singled and scored in the second, doubled and scored in the third and smashed a three-run home run to center field in the fourth that just eluded Giants center fielder Kevin Pillar, who crashed into the fence in pursuit, his glove tumbling over the wall. A member of the Phils’ grounds crew retrieved it.

Realmuto could not get the triple to complete the cycle, flying out to right field in the sixth inning and grounding into a double play in the eighth. The Phillies have not had a player hit for the cycle since David Bell did so against the Expos on June 28, 2004.

“I'm honestly just trying to do less up there, not trying to do too much, get better pitches to hit, try not to chase out of the zone,” Realmuto said. “For me, when I get in trouble is when I go up there and try to do too much, try to hit for power. When I just let it come to me and feel a little more relaxed at the plate, it works out better for me.”

Realmuto has been hitting the ball well over the past few weeks. He slashed .257/.314/.428 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs in 303 plate appearances through June 28, but he is slashing .323/.347/.552 with five home runs and 19 RBIs in 101 plate appearances since then. Realmuto might also finally be getting some balls to fall for hits that weren’t at the beginning of the year. His wOBA is .353 since June 28, and it was .316 through the first three months of the season.

“They're definitely starting to fall a little bit more for me, but I'm also driving the ball a little bit better than I was earlier in the season,” Realmuto said. “For me, as long as I'm hitting the ball hard, then I can't really complain. The hits will fall when they fall.”

Realmuto was the Phillies’ only representative on the NL All-Star team, which in a way explains why they found themselves making low-cost, low-impact moves before the Trade Deadline.

If the stars had been playing better and if the team had maintained its pace of play through May 29, when it was 33-22, the Phils might have made splashier moves before Wednesday’s Deadline. Instead, they hope recent acquisitions like , , , and can raise the floor of their roster, while hoping Realmuto, , and others pick up their play in the season’s final two months.

Still, they have challenges ahead. could not get through the fifth inning as he continues to pitch with a bone spur in his right elbow.

“I just kind of hit a wall,” he said.

But Arrieta nevertheless remains one of their five best starters, and the burden would be eased if others stepped up. Realmuto knows this. The Phillies know it, too.

“J.T. is one of our stars,” manager Gabe Kapler said.