Phillies flip the power switch in win over Bucs

April 12th, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- Perhaps nobody can explain the Phillies’ confidence in their offense better than .

He has a way.

“We’ve got dudes and dogs on dogs that show up and show out every night,” Marsh said following Thursday night’s 5-1 victory over the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park, giving them a winning record (7-6) for the first time this year. “Wherever Rob [Thomson] puts us, we’re trying to go. We’re ready to go.”

The Phillies have played in mostly terrible weather since the beginning of the year. No team has played more games in the rain. Only four teams have played in more games below 50 degrees at first pitch. The Phillies hate to use the elements as an excuse, but it hasn’t exactly been “hittin’ season,” as Charlie Manuel likes to say.

It partially explains why the Phillies opened their 10-game homestand on Thursday ranked in the bottom half in baseball in most significant offensive categories, like batting average (19th, .234), slugging percentage (24th, .342), OPS (20th, .658), home runs (18th, 11) and runs per game (22nd, 3.75); and in quality contact metrics, like exit velocity (25th, 87.9 mph), hard-hit rate (21st, 37.4 percent) and barrel rate (28th, 3.6 percent).

“The slug will come,” Marsh said. “With the lineup we have, it’s just a matter of time.”

It came Thursday. hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot to center field in the fourth inning to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. It snapped the Phillies’ streak of 91 consecutive plate appearances without an extra-base hit, dating to Bohm’s double in the 10th inning on Monday night in St. Louis. It was the team’s longest extra-base hit drought since a 94-plate appearance streak from June 18-22, 2022, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

One run was plenty for Ranger Suárez, who pitched six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks and striking out eight. But Marsh and each hit two-run homers in the seventh, giving the bullpen insurance.

It was the Phillies’ second multi-homer game of the season.

Bohm is batting .267 with one homer, eight RBIs and a .787 OPS this season, but he entered the game not hitting the ball nearly as hard as he had last year.

“Hitting is contagious,” Bohm said. “Confidence comes as a whole. I think good at-bats lead to more good at-bats and guys feed off each other, especially in this locker room. I think the more we see success, the more success we’re going to have. … Over the course of the last week or so, I’ve been happy about the patience. Early on, I was kind of auto-swinging and chasing a lot, not making them come to me. Over the last road trip, I got more comfortable and got into a better spot at swinging at stuff I can handle, instead of just going up there and trying to hit whatever they throw.”

Stott is batting .220 with one homer, five RBIs and a .630 OPS. Like Bohm, he also has not been hitting the ball as hard as last year. In years past, Stott said he might have tried to rework his swing to get on top of things.

But he has been steadfast in his approach and mechanics.

“Talking to [hitting coach Kevin Long], they can’t catch them forever,” Stott said. “The beginning of the season is amplified because it’s your only numbers. If this happened in June to any of us, I don’t think it’s crazy. I went 6-for-30 before. I did it last year when I was hitting .340. It’s part of baseball.

“Kevin is like, we’re not changing a thing. Just stay right there.”

Hours before the game, a member of the media questioned Thomson about the team’s lack of power. What could he do to help the situation? Keep playing his players, Thomson said. But would the Phillies ever hit for enough power this year, which strangely ignored the talent on the roster, their track records and the fact the team had played only 12 games in a 162-game season and mostly in terrible weather.

“If you don’t think we’re going to slug, you ain’t watching the games,” Thomson said.

One game doesn’t mean the power is back to stay, but it is more than reasonable to expect the numbers to be there at the end of the season.

“That’s part of our game,” Thomson said about the team’s ability to slug the baseball. “We really haven’t had it much this year. Hopefully that continues. It’s going to come and go, just like everything else. But it was good to see some guys hit the ball out of the ballpark.”