Wheeler, Phils dig in against Trout and prevail

June 5th, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- Zack Wheeler put a little extra something on his 2-2 fastball to Mike Trout in the first inning on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

Trout swung and missed.

The pitch registered 98.3 mph, making it Wheeler’s second-fastest pitch of the season. It was not a coincidence. Wheeler is a competitor, just like Trout. So, yeah, he reached back for the putaway pitch to arguably the game’s best player. Trout’s strikeout preceded the Phillies’ five-run first inning in a 7-2 victory over the Angels. The Phillies are 2-0 under interim manager Rob Thomson. He is the first Phillies manager to start 2-0 since Larry Bowa in 2001.

“Obviously, you know who’s up,” Wheeler said about Trout. “You just try to give him your best and hope that it’s a good pitch. Yeah, you see the guy in the box, so you try to bear down.”

Trout, who grew up about 40 miles away in Millville, N.J., went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Saturday. He is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts in the series. He is hitless in his last 23 at-bats, the worst stretch of his career.

"I'm in it right now,” Trout said. “Just have to figure out a way to get out of it. Just searching too much right now. I'll be fine. Just have to be positive. Look at last night, I was robbed of two hits. So I just need to start seeing the ball better."

Wheeler got Trout to hit into a fielder’s choice in the third inning. He struck out Trout swinging on a 1-2 fastball in the fifth.

Seranthony Domínguez threw Trout a first-pitch sinker at 99.4 mph to open the eighth. He struck out Trout swinging on a 2-2 fastball at 98.5 mph. The pitch was well outside the zone. So far outside that the pitch got away from Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto, who recovered in time to throw out Trout at first base.

It was only the third time this season that Trout swung and missed at a fastball that far off the plate.

“When the fastball starts to cut, it’s really good,” Domínguez said. “When it’s cutting like that, I just try to go a little bit away. A lot of times, they swing at it. Everybody knows he’s one of the best players in the world. It’s good to know that you can get people out like him.”

It goes without saying that the Delaware Valley’s most diehard Eagles fan could still make life miserable for the Phillies in Sunday’s series finale. Trout has been looking forward to this trip to Philadelphia since he last played at Citizens Bank Park in May 2014.

He had a lot of fans in the stands the past two nights.

“When the schedule comes out, I look to see when we’re playing out east and Philly is the team I always look most [forward] to playing at,” Trout said.

The Phillies won the series opener on Friday, 10-0. They picked up where they left off in the first inning on Saturday, scoring five runs. It was the first time they scored at least five runs in the first since they put up six in Atlanta on May 7, 2021.

A night after he hit a leadoff homer, Kyle Schwarber ripped a leadoff double off the top of the right-field wall against Angels starter Michael Lorenzen. Schwarber is batting .389 (7-for-18) with one double, four homers, five RBIs and a 1.633 OPS over his last five games. Bryce Harper and Nick Castellenos walked to load the bases. Realmuto ripped a one-out double into the left-field corner to score Schwarber and Harper.

Realmuto is heating up, too, as he hit a career-high three doubles. He is the first Phillies catcher to have three doubles in a game since Mike Lieberthal on July 8, 2003, in Montreal. Realmuto is batting .349 (15-for-43) with six doubles, one triple, one homer, 10 RBIs and a 1.057 OPS in his last 14 games.

Bryson Stott then worked a two-out walk to reload the bases. Johan Camargo hit a single to right to score Castellanos and Realmuto to make it 4-0. Mickey Moniak’s infield single scored Stott to make it 5-0.

The only thing that didn’t go well was Alec Bohm’s battle with the bat rack after he struck out swinging in the first inning. Bohm, who has one hit in his last 28 at-bats, bashed it a few times, but his bat ricocheted into his neck and cut him. He had a decent amount of blood dripping down his neck.

“That’s a situation there where you don’t want to see guys get hurt,” Thomson said. “But guys do get frustrated and they bang the bat rack every once in a while.”

Trout knows what Bohm’s feeling. The Phillies hope to keep it going on Sunday.