SAN DIEGO -- So many things have happened to the Phillies since J.T. Realmuto last homered on May 26.
They got a new manager, of course. They played themselves into postseason contention, too. But for the Phillies to get there for the first time in more than a decade, they will need players like Realmuto to play more like themselves. It means a little more pop from Realmuto, wherever he hits in the lineup.
His opposite-field, three-run homer in the sixth inning against Padres right-hander Joe Musgrove sealed a 6-2 victory at Petco Park. It snapped a three-game losing streak. It also snapped Realmuto’s streak of 83 consecutive at-bats without a home run -- his longest homerless drought since a 96 at-bat streak in 2019.
Twenty-nine days seems like a long time between homers.
“I didn’t know how many days it was, but it definitely felt that long,” Realmuto said. “Probably longer.”
Realmuto hit a hanging 1-1 slider off Musgrove, who entered the game 8-0 with a 1.59 ERA, which was second in MLB.
“He’s strong,” Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said of Realmuto. “He’s strong.”
“It felt good off the bat,” Realmuto said. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a homer, especially since I hit some balls good to right field this year that haven’t gone out. I thought, off the bat, it might just be a double, but it got the carry to get out. The last thing on my mind was hitting a home run there. Honestly, I was just trying to hit a line drive to right-center.”
Realmuto entered Thursday batting .240 with three homers, 24 RBIs and a .666 OPS, which was 109 points below his career average.
“It’s not from a lack of having power,” Realmuto said. “It’s just right now I’m not putting the swings together that I actually need to produce home runs. I feel like I have probably more power right now as far as BP and in my early work. I feel like the ball is jumping off my bat more than it ever has. I’m just not producing the swings in the game that are correlating to that. I just have to take my practice swings into the games and get more comfortable with that. It’s more mechanical, just using my lower half.”
Realmuto hit a career-high 25 homers in 2019. He has hit no fewer than 17 in each of the last four full-schedule MLB seasons.
“I should be anywhere from 20-25 [homers],” Realmuto said. “There’s no reason I shouldn’t hit that many home runs with as much as I play, catching-wise. I should be able to get there. There’s no reason I shouldn’t.”
Realmuto wasn’t the only Phillies player to break a skid against Musgrove. Didi Gregorius snapped Musgrove’s no-hit bid with a one-out single to right in the fifth. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored the tying run on Odúbel Herrera’s single into left field.
Herrera’s hit snapped a 22 at-bat hitless streak.
Bryson Stott started the sixth with a double to right field. It was his first extra-base hit since June 11 as he was stuck in a 1-for-30 funk. Kyle Schwarber then smashed a two-run home run to center field to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead.
It was Schwarber’s ninth homer this month, and his 20th of the season. He is the fastest Phillies player to 20 homers (71 games) since Raul Ibañez in 2009 (56 games). Bryce Harper singled with one out. Nick Castellanos followed with a single to left, snapping his 19 at-bat hitless streak.
That’s when Realmuto ended his homerless drought.
“It’s really cool to see him get rewarded for it,” Schwarber said. “Trust me. He’s been doing everything he can to put the work in. It’s nice to see him get rewarded for that with an opposite-field homer in a big spot.”