PHILADELPHIA – The Phillies scored seven runs in the fourth inning without hitting a single ball hard. J.T. Realmuto hopped out of the dugout in the sixth and enthusiastically waved an oversized Panama hat with a Phillies "P" on the front as fans cheered his 100th career home run.
Then the netting behind home plate collapsed in the eighth.
Sunday’s 12-6 victory over the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park proved to be one of the more memorable games in recent history, mostly because there was an unofficial 20 minute, 21 second delay after the netting fell onto the field and into both dugouts. But before it dropped and the Phillies' grounds crew moved like an Indy 500 pit crew to fix it, the Phils slogged through a 4-hour, 26-minute afternoon in which they scored double-digit runs for the second time in four games.
“Guys are starting to click a little bit more,” Realmuto said, as he wore a wide-brimmed straw hat in the Phillies' postgame Zoom room. Brad Miller and Realmuto each donned the lid after they homered in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.
It may be the first time a straw hat has been worn in a dugout in Philadelphia since Connie Mack managed the A’s.
“[Archie Bradley] bought one, wore it in the clubhouse, we all loved it [and] thought it was funny, so we ordered a couple more and decided to make it the home run hat,” Realmuto said. “We haven't actually set the rules down yet. For now, you just put it on when you get back to the dugout. I think I’m actually the first one wearing it in the press conference. I don't know if that'll be a thing or not. Greg [Casterioto, Phillies baseball communications director] just talked me into wearing it. We'll see how that goes.”
When asked if it could become something like Willie Mays Hayes nailing batting gloves to the wall in the movie “Major League,” Realmuto said, “I don't think you get to keep them. We'll run out of them too soon. Unless Archie wants to buy a few more. I think right now we've only got a couple, so we've got to share.”
The Phillies are trying to enjoy themselves as they improved to 28-30 before opening a big series on Tuesday night against the Braves. After they scored 17 runs on Tuesday against the Reds in Cincinnati, the Phils did not play Wednesday because of a rainout, nor Thursday because of a scheduled day off. Philadelphia scored one run on Friday against Washington ace Max Scherzer, before they scored five runs on Saturday and the 12 runs on Sunday.
The Phillies hope it is a sign of things to come.
“I think the pieces are there,” Realmuto said. “I came back slow after the injury. I haven't felt [like] myself the last couple weeks -- just starting to kind of get in a groove. We've got guys starting to click at the right time. Offense is contagious. We just have to get rolling. We have to add on when we have the chance to like we did tonight, and that's how it carries on to the next game. Hopefully [there are] good things ahead for our offense.”
Philly sent 12 batters to the plate in the fourth. Those batters did not hit a ball hard, but they put together good at-bats, they put the ball in play, and they took advantage of Washington's mistakes.
Ronald Torreyes knocked in the go-ahead run when he hit a ground ball to third baseman Starlin Castro. Castro could have walked to third base for the forceout, but he threw late to second base to keep the bases loaded. Pinch-hitter Matt Joyce struck out swinging for the second out, but the ball got away from catcher Alex Avila. Kyle Finnegan did not cover the plate, which allowed Miller to score easily to make it 5-3.
Odúbel Herrera then bounced a ball up the third-base line to clear the bases and put Philadelphia ahead 7-3.
“We did a lot of little things right in that inning,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said.