PHILADELPHIA -- Rob Thomson did not hesitate Wednesday when asked which Phillies players should make the National League All-Star team.
Kyle Schwarber, for sure, he said.
Thomson mentioned others, too. Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Seranthony Domínguez, J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper, who could win the NL fan vote at DH even though he is injured. But Schwarber has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball for more than a month. He homered twice in Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss to the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park, putting him in elite company in Phillies history.
“Kyle, it’s like a robot right now, it’s crazy,” Nola said.
But Schwarber’s solo homers in the fourth and sixth innings were not enough. The Phillies struck out 16 times, including 11 in six innings against Nationals right-hander Josiah Gray. Nola pitched well, but a couple hard-hit balls, a couple soft-hit balls and a ball or two that should have been outs sunk him.
Yadiel Hernandez beat the shift on a slow roller to third for a one-out hit in the seventh. Keibert Ruiz followed with a bloop single to left, and Luis García then smashed a line drive to center. Phillies center fielder Odúbel Herrera appeared to have the ball in his sights, but he got completely turned around at the end. The ball fell beside him on the warning track for a double.
Both runners scored to give Washington a 3-2 lead.
“If it kept going straight, I would have caught it,” Herrera said through the team’s interpreter. “But it tailed away at the end.”
It was another tough loss for Nola, who continues to be snakebit, much like Cole Hamels in the past.
Nola’s teammates know it.
“He goes out there and he pitches his [butt] off,” Schwarber said. “We didn’t get him anything. It sucks because it feels like it’s been that year for him where he goes out there, he’s pitching really well. I expect him, if he keeps pitching like that, he’s going to get many more wins.”
If Schwarber keeps hitting like this, he should help the Phillies get many more wins down the stretch, too. He homered twice each on Tuesday and Wednesday to make him the first Phils player to have consecutive multihomer games since Chase Utley on April 13-14, 2006. Only three other players in franchise history have done it: Scott Rolen (July 18-19, 1999), Dolph Camilli twice (July 26-28, 1936 and April 18-19, 1935) and Chuck Klein (Sept. 18-19, 1930).
Schwarber’s 27 homers are the most by a Phillies player in his first 80 games with the organization. Raúl Ibañez held the previous mark with 26 in 2009. Schwarber’s 27 homers are already the fifth most by a Phils player before the All-Star break. He trails Mike Schmidt’s 31 in 1979, Ryan Howard’s 28 in 2006 and '08 and Jim Thome’s 28 in '04.
Schwarber has hit 17 homers in his past 34 games. The Phillies have not seen a run like that since Rhys Hoskins hit 18 in 34 games from Aug. 14-Sept. 18, 2017.
Schwarber has five multihomer games this season. Only the Yankees’ Aaron Judge has more this season with six.
“Red-hot hitter, one of the best hitters in the game -- really, on everything,” Gray said. “There's not many ways you can get him out.”
No Phillies player has had five multihomer games in a season since 2009, when Howard had six. Howard and Utley hold the franchise record, with each recording seven multihomer games in '06. At this rate, that record could fall before the end of the month.
“Same stuff every single day,” Schwarber said about his approach. “I just want to go up there and put up a quality at-bat. The results are the result, if it’s a homer, single, whatever it is. I just always go back to the process. They’re just happening to go out of the park. It’s not like I’m trying to hit a home run.”
Schwarber was asked if he noticed the Cardinals’ loss to the Braves in Atlanta. Philadelphia and St. Louis entered the night tied for the third NL Wild Card. A victory would have moved the Phillies ahead. Schwarber said he hadn’t noticed.
“There’s a lot of baseball still to be played,” Schwarber said. “We can probably start talking about that once we get into September. … We want to get there. It’s been the 10-year thing, and we want to get there.”