Phillies erupt with 19-run outburst in win over Nats

July 2nd, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- This can’t happen every night. But it can happen.

Everybody has been waiting for the Phillies’ offense to break out of a season-long power outage. Perhaps it started in the second inning Saturday in a 19-4 victory over the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.

ripped a fastball on the outer half of the plate just short of the left-field wall and cruised into second base for a double. It was Harper’s first extra-base hit since June 12, and it started a barrage of nine extra-base hits against the Nats, including two homers from , a grand slam from and a home run from .

It was the first time the Phillies scored 19 or more runs in a game since a 20-1 victory over the Marlins on April 7, 2018. It was only the second time the Phillies have scored 19 or more runs in a game since 2009.

It was the Phils' most extra-base hits in a game since they had nine on July 16, 2022.

“Days like today -- when everybody is swinging the bats well and there are a lot of smiles in the dugout -- are always fun,” Bohm said.

The Phillies are 19-6 (.760) since June 3, which is the second-best record in baseball in that span. They have been playing well, moving into contention for an NL Wild Card.

But even the Phillies have said they have felt something lacking. Namely, they have not hit for as much power as they expected. They entered Saturday ranked 19th in MLB in both runs per game (4.37) and home runs per game (1.06).

Those numbers have improved in the past 25 games, averaging 5.44 runs and 1.28 home runs. To put those numbers into perspective, 5.44 runs per game would rank fifth in baseball this season, while 1.28 home runs per game would rank ninth.

If the Phillies continue this recent trend -- paired with their already impressive pitching -- they expect to climb in the standings.

Schwarber has a .915 OPS since June 1. Harper has not homered in a career-high 136 consecutive plate appearances, dating to May 25, but he had two hits Saturday. He also took extra bases with aggressive, heads-up baserunning in the second and third innings.

Maybe it gets him going.

“His swing looks OK,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “He’s just smothering some balls right now, but it was good to see him get that double off a lefty, be able to stay inside it and hit the ball the other way.”

Castellanos fell a triple short of a cycle, but Thomson pulled him from the game in the sixth inning to get him off his feet. Castellanos is batting .314 with 11 home runs, 52 RBIs and an .863 OPS. He will learn Sunday if he has made the National League All-Star team.

“Am I thinking about it a lot?” Castellanos said. “Not terribly, to be honest with you. Would it mean a lot? Sure. It’s a tremendous honor to represent any city and get selected to the All-Star Game. But [my son] Liam also has a sleepaway tournament in Viera, Fla., the day of the All-Star Game.

"So, whatever ends up happening -- whether I’m in Seattle or I’m watching him play, I’m going to enjoy it.”

Bohm tied career highs with four hits, two home runs and six RBIs. He homered three times in his first 10 games this season, but just four in his next 58. Bohm gets asked a lot about his power because he is tall, big and talented. It just hasn’t happened yet.

“I’ve been doing some stuff in the cage, work with a little more intent in some certain things,” Bohm said. “Nothing crazy, really. It’s always been there. It’s in there. Really, [it's] just kind of the way baseball goes. It’s up, it’s down, just try to stay even throughout.”

So what has he been working on?

“Just contact point, really,” Bohm said. “Just trying to get the ball further out in front, not let it get deep on me.”

Everybody’s contact point seemed to be on point Saturday. Like Bohm, the Phillies believe it’s always been there.