Schwarber, Harper's homers sign of Phils' power surge in DH split

Veteran slugger goes deep twice in Game 1 to become first Philly player with back-to-back 30-homer seasons since Howard

August 9th, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- left Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night, like his teammates, knowing the Phillies had opportunities to sweep the twin bill from the Nationals.

But he saw something encouraging, too.

The Phillies have hit for power recently, which is something they have been hoping to see for weeks and months. They hit five home runs in Tuesday’s doubleheader split with the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park, winning Game 1, 8-4, and losing Game 2, 5-4. Schwarber homered twice. , Alec Bohm and Jake Cave each homered once.

“Whenever you can put the ball in the seats, that’s instant offense,” Schwarber said. “That’s good. I think the biggest thing is going up and not trying to do it. It’s just happening.”

The Phillies have hit 14 home runs in their past seven games, their most homers in a seven-game stretch since they hit 15 from Sept. 9-16, 2022.

Harper ripped a two-run home run to right field in the fifth inning in Game 2 to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead. It was Harper’s seventh homer of the season and his second in three games. Harper snapped a career-high streak of 166 plate appearances without a homer on July 15. He went deep July 25, before doing so again Saturday and Tuesday.

“His swing really looks good right now,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “It looks like he’s on everything. He’s fouling some balls straight back. I just think his swing is in midseason form right now.”

Harper has been one of the Phillies’ most productive hitters this season, even without the power. It goes without saying how much more dangerous their lineup will become if he can start hitting like he has in the past.

“He looks good,” Schwarber said. “When he’s locked in … heck, even when he feels like he’s not locked in, he’s still a really good baseball player. When you see him hit the ball in the seats, it’s a good sign. Whatever he brings to the plate every single day is really good for us.”

Schwarber homered twice in Game 1, beginning with a two-run home run in the third inning to cut Washington’s lead to 3-2. Bohm followed with a long ball to right-center field to tie the game. It was the second time this season the Phillies have hit back-to-back homers.

Schwarber crushed a three-run home run into the second deck in right field in the fourth inning to give the Phillies a 6-3 lead. It was Schwarber’s 30th homer of the season, and he became the first Phils player with back-to-back 30-homer seasons since Ryan Howard had six straight from 2006-11.

"He's a great hitter,” said Nats right-hander Trevor Williams, who struck out seven but allowed six runs on eight hits (including three homers) and one walk in 4 2/3 innings in Game 1. “You have to look beyond the stat line. He's a guy that can put the ball out of the yard at any point with any pitch. It's about keeping him off balance and executing well. He's seen me a lot, I've seen him a lot. And it's a matter of, he's hard to trick. So you have to really set him up for certain stuff, and today I thought we did a good job of that -- minus the third at-bat."

Cave’s two-run home run in the sixth inning made it 8-3.

“I think they’re coming around and I really feel good about it,” Thomson said.

It's coming in bunches. Bohm has a 1.200 OPS with three homers in his past nine games. Trea Turner has a 1.137 OPS with one homer in his past five. Schwarber has a .964 OPS with four homers in his past 12. Bryson Stott has an .887 OPS with one homer in his past 11. Harper has an .885 OPS with three homers in his past 14. Nick Castellanos has an .873 OPS with three homers in his past eight.

The Phils are letting the power happen. They’re not forcing it. That’s a good thing.

“When you try to do too many things, that’s when bad things happen,” Schwarber said.