Schwarber rivals The Babe in June home run supremacy

June 12th, 2024

BOSTON -- Move over , "June Schwarber" has finally arrived.

It came a bit late this year, but 's June dominance could not have come at a better time for the Phillies.

Schwarber clubbed his first home run of the month on the opening pitch of the Phils' 4-1 victory over the Red Sox on Tuesday night at Fenway Park. His second of the month came just four innings later.

"It's been June for how many days now?" Schwarber joked afterward.

With his two-homer game, Schwarber currently stands as the most efficient home run hitter in the month of June in AL/NL history. He's now averaging one homer every 10.4 at-bats in his career in June, moving ahead of Ruth (10.6) for the best mark all time for the month.

More importantly for the Phillies, Schwarber's multi-homer game came just hours after the club announced that starting catcher J.T. Realmuto will undergo right knee meniscectomy surgery on Wednesday in Philadelphia.

"Every time somebody goes down, somebody steps up," manager Rob Thomson said before the game. "And I'm expecting the same thing this time."

It remains to be seen how the Phillies will fill the massive void left by Realmuto's absence, but Schwarber heating up would certainly help.

Schwarber entered Tuesday night with a .917 career OPS in June, easily his highest for any month. But through his first seven games this month, Schwarber was just 5-for-28 (.179) with zero extra-base hits and only one RBI.

He changed that in one pitch Tuesday night, sending Kutter Crawford’s opening fastball a Statcast-projected 444 feet into the right-center field seats. The ball left Schwarber's bat at 112.4 mph.

“That was huge, first pitch of the game,” Thomson said. “Kind of puts everyone on their heels. That's what he does.”

Schwarber has done that more than any player in baseball since joining the Phillies. His 24 leadoff home runs since 2022 are the most in MLB during that span, one ahead of Dodgers superstar Mookie Betts.

“It's definitely a tone-setter for us when he goes up and does that,” said , who tossed seven innings of one-run ball. “I think that's why he's hitting leadoff for us. I know, as a starter, if somebody leads off with a home run, it's kind of a dagger.”

Schwarber later added a Statcast-projected 427-foot homer with a 110 mph exit velocity in the fifth inning.

“For me, like I've always said, it's just putting in that work and being consistent and making some adjustments,” Schwarber said. “ ... I feel like it's starting to feel better and better.”

Schwarber's two homers provided more than enough offense for Wheeler, who lowered his season ERA to 2.16. He retired 17 of the final 18 batters he faced -- including each of the last 10 -- and did not allow a hit after the second inning.

“Having a guy like Wheeler on the mound,” Schwarber said, “you always feel like if you get him one or two runs, that could be enough.”

That was indeed the case on Tuesday night, as the Phillies improved to 46-20 and extended their lead in the National League East to 10 games over the Braves. The only other time the Phillies had a 10-game lead this early in the season was in 1993, when they also reached the 10-game threshold on June 11.

“This team -- we enjoy winning, but we just really don't like to lose,” Schwarber said. “That's what fuels us. We just want to keep winning.”

Last season, Schwarber had a two-homer game on June 4 in D.C. that led to a 14-game stretch featuring seven homers and a 1.126 OPS. In 2022, he had a two-homer game on June 3 en route to hitting 12 homers for the month.

But 2021 was perhaps most similar to this year. After a slow start to June, Schwarber hit a pair of home runs on June 13. That kickstarted the hottest stretch of his career in which he hit 15 home runs in 16 games for the Nationals.

So could his latest two-homer game be the start of another June heater for Schwarber?

“Well, I hope so,” Thomson said. “I'll let you know in a month.”