'Huge, man': Castellanos breaks out in Phils' 20th win

May 1st, 2024

ANAHEIM -- barreled the baseball, raised his right arm into the air and pointed to the right-field seats in the distance.

He did this in one motion before he left the batter’s box.

“Just excited,” Castellanos said, smiling.

Castellanos smashed a game-tying, solo home run to right field with one out in the ninth inning in Tuesday night’s 7-5 victory over the Angels at Angel Stadium. Bryson Stott followed with a ground-rule double, and followed Stott with a go-ahead, two-run home run to left. The comeback gave the Phillies a franchise-record 19 wins in April. They are 20-11 overall, which is the fourth-best record in baseball and their best start through 31 games since 2011. It is only the ninth time since 1901 that the Phillies have won at least 20 of their first 31 games to start a season.

“We’re just jelling and we’re playing good baseball,” Castellanos said. “We’re showing up every day with the intent to win. I think that guys are doing a great job of not taking something bad that has happened in the game and making it affect them later on. I think we’re playing pretty complete baseball. I think we’re pitching well. I think we’re competing at the plate well. I think that we’ve cleaned up our baserunning as of late.

“We’re just a really good baseball team. So now the trick is to stay consistent, and stay healthy.”

Castellanos’ spontaneous reaction to his clutch homer in the ninth seemed like the perfect way to end the month. Not everything has gone perfectly for the Phillies, but everybody seems to be having their moment.

This was Castellanos’ moment. He has been struggling all year. He said last week that something as simple as a “[butt]-out flare" could trigger his turnaround. He hit his first homer of the season on Friday in San Diego. He walked three times on Sunday. Tuesday, he hit flare singles in the second and fourth innings.

Then, in the ninth, he smoked Carlos Estévez’s 96-mph fastball to right field for his second homer of the year.

“Just got a fastball from a [fastball] cheating Castellanos and he caught it,” Angels manager Ron Washington said.

“Huge, man,” Castellanos said. “To be able to come through because I feel like there’s so many spots so far this season when I haven’t, just to pick them up, it feels great.”

Maybe these are all signs of better things to come.

"Sometimes it starts with things that don't have to do with the field," Castellanos said. "Little signs away in everyday life. I don't know. I'm weird. man. That's kind of my truth."

Phillies right-hander Spencer Turnbull was in the athletic trainer’s room when Castellanos homered. He said he didn’t notice Castellanos point to right field after he hit the ball. Other teammates didn’t notice, either.

Turnbull gathered himself and sprinted to the dugout for the rest of the ninth. He saw Stott’s double. He saw Estévez throw Rojas a hanging 0-1 slider. He saw Rojas crush it.

Rojas picked the perfect moment for his first homer of the season. He pumped his fist as he rounded first base. He tapped his chest a few times before he touched home plate.

“It shows you how much athleticism he has,” Castellanos said. “Even though he’s small, he packs a punch.”

The Phillies carried a 3-1 lead into the sixth inning when Turnbull (1.39 ERA in six starts) gave up a one-out single on his season-high 98th pitch. Phillies manager Rob Thomson went to the bullpen, ending what might be Turnbull’s final start for a while with Taijuan Walker rejoining the rotation on Sunday in San Diego.

Yunior Marte got Brandon Drury to smash a ground ball at 105.7 mph directly at Phillies shortstop Trea Turner. It was a sure-thing, inning-ending double play, but Turner did not catch it. It bounced away from him. Everybody was safe.

Marte threw a first-pitch slider to Luis Rengifo, who smashed a three-run homer to right to give the Angels a 4-3 lead. Cole Tucker hit a two-out double and scored on Mickey Moniak’s single to right to give the Angels a 5-3 lead.

The Phillies trailed in the ninth, 5-4, but Castellanos, Stott and Rojas came through.

“That was one of the better wins of the year,” Thomson said.

Castellanos agreed.

“Winning is always better when you face adversity and you’re able to triumph over it and come out on top,” he said. “It was a good test of the character of the team.”