Schwarber's 434-foot swat hits spot as Phils snap skid

Outfielder drops in order, ends 0-for-21 drought during first multi-RBI game since April 4

May 7th, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- entered Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Red Sox having gone nearly a week without a hit. He had gone more than two weeks without a multi-hit game -- and more than a month without a multi-RBI effort.

He snapped all of those streaks -- and helped the Phillies end a six-game skid of their own -- in a 6-1 win at Citizens Bank Park.

Bumped down to the No. 5 spot in the order, Schwarber struck out in the second inning to extend his slump to an 0-for-21 with nine strikeouts. He walked back to the first-base dugout to a smattering of boos from the sold-out crowd.

Those boos turned to cheers two innings later when Schwarber roped a 98.3 mph RBI single into right field to plate Bryce Harper. Those cheers then became boisterous two more innings later when Schwarber welcomed left-handed reliever Richard Bleier to the game by smashing a 110.8 mph, 434-foot home run to the second deck in right field.

“It feels good,” Schwarber said. “There's definitely a level of frustration whenever you go through things like that.”

Schwarber entered the series finale slashing .176/.295/.376 (.671 OPS), but the frustration had certainly been building over the last few weeks, in particular.

His two hits on Sunday marked his first multi-hit game since April 21 against the Rockies. The three RBIs were a season high, with his only other multi-RBI game this season coming on April 4 at Yankee Stadium.

And it all came on a day when Schwarber was hitting outside of the top three spots in the lineup for the first time since May 27, 2022.

"Maybe it jumpstarts them both," manager Rob Thomson said before the game of swapping Schwarber and Bryson Stott, who went 1-for-4 in his return to the leadoff spot. 

Thomson then joked after the game: "He really feels comfortable in the five-hole."

Schwarber, however, truly does feel comfortable just about anywhere in the lineup.

Though he primarily hit leadoff last season, Schwarber has more than 100 career plate appearances at every spot from first to sixth. He has more than 300 plate appearances hitting first, second, fourth, fifth or sixth -- and at least 20 home runs out of each of those five spots in the lineup.

“A spot's a spot, for me,” Schwarber said. “I'm going to hit wherever they want me to hit.”

Given Schwarber’s recent slump, Thomson had been faced with plenty of questions over the past week about using the two-time All-Star in the leadoff spot. It was reminiscent of last year's postseason, when Schwarber went 1-for-20 (.050) with eight strikeouts atop the order over the club's first six playoff games.

In the seventh game, Schwarber went 2-for-3 with one home run, one walk and one strikeout in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series in San Diego -- the same exact line he turned in Sunday in Philadelphia.

Schwarber's breakout game in the NLCS kicked off a stretch in which he went 11-for-35 (.314) with six homers over the final 11 games of the 2022 postseason.

The Phillies are hoping Sunday triggers a similar turnaround.

“Confidence is a huge thing for all these guys,” Thomson said. “You start getting your timing down, seeing the ball a little bit better, keeping your head still -- things can turn quickly."

Schwarber is no stranger to quick turnarounds following slow starts. Entering Sunday, he had a .204 career batting average and .736 OPS prior to June. From June 1 on, he’s a career .244 hitter to go along with an .873 OPS. His home run rate also jumps from 4.9% in those first two months to 6.7% the rest of the year.

“I hate it. I wish that I didn't [start slow]. But it is what it is,” Schwarber said. “I can promise you guys that, whenever I do step out there, I'm taking my best step forward -- and so is everyone else in this clubhouse whenever we step on that field.”

Schwarber’s best game to date backed what was also Taijuan Walker’s best start yet with Philadelphia. The right-hander allowed just one run off three hits over six innings to go with six strikeouts and no walks to earn his first home win as a Phillie.

It was exactly what the Phillies needed to snap a six-game skid heading into Monday’s off-day ahead of a two-game series against another American League East foe in the Blue Jays. 

“Great to get a win. Obviously, I think that's more important,” Schwarber said. “Get off that little streak we had there, and hopefully, take that momentum going into the next series.”