PHILADELPHIA -- Alec Bohm has played and watched enough baseball in his life to understand when it makes sense to intentionally walk a batter.
Almost nobody in baseball is hitting better than Bryce Harper this month. He hit the 299th homer of his career in the second inning and doubled in the fourth in Tuesday night’s 12-7 victory over the Angels at Citizens Bank Park. Harper is batting .366 with nine homers, 22 RBIs and a 1.229 OPS this month, which is second in the Majors to Mookie Betts (1.317). So Bohm said he understood why the Halos intentionally walked Harper, who represented the tying run, to face him with two on and no outs in the sixth inning.
“I don’t really take that as disrespect,” Bohm said. “I feel like he’s going to homer every time he swings a bat. I get it. My job is just to try to make it look like the wrong decision.”
Bohm smashed a 0-1 changeup off Angels left-hander Tyler Anderson into the left-center field seats for a go-ahead three-run home run. It was the third of the Phillies’ five home runs on Tuesday. They have hit an MLB-best 57 this month, which is tied for the ninth-most homers in a calendar month by any team since at least 1904.
If Philadelphia hits one more homer in Wednesday afternoon's series finale, the club will move into a fifth-place tie.
“I just told him it was a big at-bat, a big situation for him,” Harper said. “Just a really good moment for him.”
Bohm emphatically tossed his bat toward the Phillies’ dugout as he watched the ball clear the wall.
“Go-ahead homer, it’s exciting, all of that stuff,” Bohm said.
The last Phillies player to homer following an intentional walk was Rhys Hoskins, who hit a three-run shot (with an iconic bat spike) in Game 3 of the 2022 National League Division Series against Atlanta. The Braves intentionally walked Kyle Schwarber to face Hoskins. The last Phils player to go deep following an intentional walk in the regular season? The Pirates intentionally walked Matt Vierling in front of the pitcher’s spot on Sept. 23, 2021. Naturally, pinch-hitter Ronald Torreyes made Pittsburgh pay for its sins.
“I feel like any time the guy in front of you gets intentionally walked, it gets your competitive juices flowing a little bit,” Bohm said. “Like I said, not that I take it as a sign of disrespect or anything. But you get a little competitive with it for sure.”
Bohm was 1-for-7 with one RBI, one sacrifice fly and three strikeouts in his previous plate appearances when the batter before him was intentionally walked. He might see more of these situations in the season’s final few weeks, especially if he keeps hitting behind Harper.
The Angels already intentionally walked Harper twice this series.
“If we have the lineup that we do and a team ends up walking me or anybody in our lineup, I think those guys behind me and in front of me are going to keep swinging the bat,” Harper said. “Kind of pick your poison throughout the whole team.”
The five homers helped the Phillies overcome the four runs (three earned) that Michael Lorenzen allowed in six innings. The Angels went 6-for-6 with two doubles and two home runs, including a pair of homers from Luis Rengifo, leading off each of the innings against Lorenzen. Since Lorenzen threw a no-hitter against the Nationals in his first start for the Phils at Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 9, he has allowed 15 runs (13 earned) in 15 innings in three starts.
“I felt really good, other than the leadoff hitters,” Lorenzen said. “When you’re trying to fill up the zone, those can be one-pitch outs, and you’re going into the eighth inning with 75 pitches, 85 pitches. Or sometimes they do damage on them. If you’re going to fill up the zone like that, you live and die by it. Sometimes it gets you, sometimes it works out.”
And sometimes the Phillies just hit tons of home runs.
“I was driving in today, and I’m listening to WIP [radio station], like I do a lot in the 2 o’clock hour,” Harper said. “A guy named Chuck called in. He calls in a lot. He’s hilarious. He was talking about our team and talking about me and stuff. I walked in the training room and I was like, ‘I’m going to go deep tonight for Chuck.’ That guy had me fired up, man.”