'This is Philadelphia': Turner answers ovations with winning HR

August 6th, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- On Friday night, the Philadelphia faithful tried to will out of his season-long slump by giving him a standing ovation before each of his four at-bats.

On Saturday night, he earned one.

Turner sent the sold-out crowd at Citizens Bank Park into a frenzy with a go-ahead three-run homer in the sixth inning of the Phillies' 9-6 win vs. the Royals. The hometown fans had once again welcomed him to the plate with a loud ovation, but following his trip around the bases, they only grew louder until he emerged from the first-base dugout for a curtain call.

“Curtain calls are special,” Turner said. “I like watching other teammates do it, not necessarily being the guy up there, but it means you did something good or something big in a big moment. It was fun.”

Trailing by one with two on and nobody out, Turner jumped all over a first-pitch sinker from Royals reliever Angel Zerpa for his first home run since July 8. It was Turner's first home run in Philadelphia since June 25. Excluding four homers in the first inning, it was his first go-ahead home run in a Phillies uniform.

It was only Turner's second homer with a runner on base this season -- and his first with multiple runners on. With one swing, he matched his RBI total from his past 21 games combined. Turner later drove in an insurance run with an eighth-inning double, giving him a season-high four RBIs.

“It was a good one because I hadn’t done that in a long time -- it’d been a minute,” Turner said of his trip around the bases. “That’s what I want to do: be a complete hitter, drive the ball and make a difference in games. Given the past few days, it felt really good.”

And it couldn't have come at a better time for the Phillies.

Not only had Philadelphia watched an early lead slip away for a second straight night against the last-place Royals, but center fielder Brandon Marsh exited in the fifth inning with a left knee injury (X-rays were negative) after crashing into the center-field wall. That play started what proved to be an ugly four-run frame, capped by Maikel Garcia stealing third base and scoring when J.T. Realmuto's throw sailed into left field.

Facing a three-run deficit, Bryce Harper provided an immediate answer with a no-doubt two-run homer to left-center field in the bottom half. One inning later, Turner finally answered the call.

“That was really something. It really was,” manager Rob Thomson said. “To get the curtain call and the whole thing -- I just feel so happy for him.”

As Turner fielded questions in the media scrum following the game, he did so with colorful cereal still smashed against his back -- courtesy of double-play partner Bryson Stott’s customary antics during the postgame TV interview.

“Outside of the playoffs, obviously, I think that was one of the coolest things I've seen,” Stott said of the past two days. “In the media and all that, all you hear is how this place is terrible, you don't want to play here, they don't like their players and blah, blah, blah.”

But watching the reception Turner got on Friday night and the reaction to his momentous homer?

“I was like, 'There. This is Philadelphia. And this is why we love playing here,'” Stott said.

Despite his season-long struggles, Turner has had his share of big moments this season, each brimming with the hope that it marks a turning point.

There was his near-cycle against the White Sox on April 19. There was his game-tying ninth-inning homer against the D-backs on May 24. His two-homer, four-hit game against the Tigers on June 5. His all-around gem against the Mets on June 25.

So does this time feel different?

“Yeah,” Turner said, “but you've still got to show up every day. It's a hard game. You play every day, I take pride in that. So do it all again tomorrow and keep competing.”

"I always feel that way," Thomson added, with a smile. "So yeah, I'm hoping that's the way it is."

Either way, it’s certainly an improvement from Wednesday, when Turner was standing in front of the cameras taking ownership for a 12-inning loss to the Marlins in which he went 0-for-5 and made a potentially game-deciding miscue. 

But that was all more than 72 hours -- and many ovations -- ago.

“I forgot about that a long time ago,” Turner said. “My wife doesn't like it, but I focus on one thing at a time and she tries to plan everything out. … Can't change the past and the future's not here yet.”