Stubbs savors walk-off homer: 'I knew I got that one'

Down to his final strike, Phillies catcher wins it with 3-run blast

June 15th, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- Garrett Stubbs posed.

If you blinked, you might have missed it. But for a split-second Wednesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, Stubbs stood and stared at the ball he barreled as it sailed into the right-field seats in the ninth inning in a 3-1 walk-off victory over the Marlins. Stubbs is not a power hitter. He has hit only 30 home runs in his professional baseball career, including 27 in six Minor League seasons, but he has played enough baseball and hit enough homers to know when he crushes one.

He crushed this one for a two-out, three-run walk-off home run.

It was the first walk-off hit of his career.

“I’ve never watched any homer of my own in my entire life,” Stubbs said. “But, you know, I think I knew I got that one, and it was a big spot. I got pretty excited. I looked at the boys and they were just as excited as I was.”

Stubbs took seven steps up the first-base line when he spiked his bat into the turf. He took off his helmet, turned and looked into the Phillies’ dugout. He shuffled a few feet further down the line before he put the helmet back on his head, turned and ran.

“I couldn’t tell you,” Stubbs said, asked about what he remembers from that run. “A lot of excitement. A lot of adrenaline. By the time I got home, everybody was crowding me. I felt like I was going to throw up afterward. The adrenaline was awesome. A really good feeling. A great way to end a series and go to Washington.”

Stubbs’ blast helped the Phillies win two of three against the Marlins. The Phils have won 11 of their last 13 to improve to 32-31. They will carry their mojo into a 10-game road trip, which begins Thursday night in Washington.

The Phillies are playing better in part because they are getting contributions from just about everybody. Kyle Gibson single-handedly kept the Phillies in the game Wednesday, allowing just one run in eight-plus innings.

“That’s the first time I’ve seen the ninth inning in a long time, so it was fun,” Gibson said.

Alec Bohm singled and pinch-hitter J.T. Realmuto walked to put runners on first and second with one out in the ninth. Pinch-hitter Yairo Muñoz struck out swinging for the second out. The Phillies were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position at that point.

Marlins left-hander Tanner Scott needed one more out. He threw Stubbs four consecutive sliders to get to 2-2.

He threw Stubbs another slider, but this one hit the heart of the plate.

Stubbs turned on it.

“I promise you, I was not trying to hit a homer,” Stubbs said. “Single up the middle, I was just trying to get the big part of the bat to the ball. It just so happened to go over the fence.”

“Did I get a little too slider-happy? Probably,” Scott said. “But it all has to do with location. I threw it right down the middle. Can’t do that.”

Nobody really knew much about Stubbs when the Phillies acquired him in November in a trade with Houston for Logan Cerny, an outfielder whom the Phillies selected in the 10th round of the 2021 MLB Draft. They just knew he would compete to be Realmuto’s backup in Spring Training.

Stubbs batted .182 with five doubles, six RBIs and a .485 OPS in 87 plate appearances over three seasons with Houston from 2019-21. He is batting .342 with three doubles, one triple, three home runs, nine RBIs and a 1.116 OPS in 43 plate appearances with the Phillies.

“Over in Houston, I didn’t get too many opportunities,” Stubbs said. “We had two really good catchers that were in front of me, ever since 2019 when I debuted. And before that, too. So coming over to the Phils in Spring Training I was hoping to fight for a spot, got the spot behind J.T. and feel like I have definitely more of an opportunity than I’ve had previously.”

Stubbs is taking advantage of it, just like others. Think about some of the Phillies’ biggest moments in the past couple weeks: Bryson Stott’s first walk-off homer of his career, plus Matt Vierling’s game-winning homer against Brewers closer Josh Hader on the day Vierling got recalled from Triple-A.

Then Stubbs’ blast on Wednesday.

“Baseball is a game of ‘when,’” Gibson said. “I was taught that at a young age from my high school coach. When you get the big hit, when you make the pitch, when you make the nice play. It’s a game of when.”

"When" has been happening a lot lately for the Phillies.