How BP vs. Roger Clemens led to Schwarber's walk-off HR

June 10th, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- Kyle Schwarber imagined moments like this so many times as a boy in his backyard.

Tie game, two outs, ninth inning …


“You’re not going up there trying to hit a home run,” Schwarber said after Friday night’s 5-4 walk-off victory over the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park. “But it’s definitely a cool thing when it does happen because it brings you back to when you were a kid. When you’re rounding the bases in front of a full, packed stadium, that’s what you live for. It’s really cool.”

Schwarber hit a walk-off home run to right field with two outs in the ninth inning against Dodgers left-hander Caleb Ferguson, sending the Phillies to a season-high sixth consecutive victory. Schwarber is batting .267 (8-for-30) with one double, one triple, four home runs, eight RBIs and a 1.172 OPS in eight games this month. It was the fourth walk-off homer of his career, and his first since April 2021.

Schwarber had another backyard moment earlier in the day. He took early batting practice against teammate Kody Clemens’ father, Roger Clemens, who threw to his son, Schwarber and Nick Castellanos’ son, Liam.

“To be able to say that you hit BP off Roger Clemens,” Schwarber said. “I told Kody, ‘He needs to get ready for tomorrow. Better make sure he ices that thing up tonight.’ It’s the Rocket, right? I got to hit off Andy Pettitte before Spring Training when I was with Team USA [for the World Baseball Classic]. Those are cool things that you get to do. These are greats in the game.”

Schwarber homered twice against Clemens, dropping some good-natured trash talk after the first one. Because why not? The Rocket is the Rocket, even if he has not thrown a pitch in the big leagues since 2007.

But the Rocket still competes, so he could not just let Schwarber get away with it. He got Schwarber to drop to his knee after swinging and missing at a splitter.

“That evens it up real quick,” Clemens said, smiling.

“If you can do that, have a little bit of fun, a little competition, a little smack talk, but it’s also respect at the end of the day to say thank you, too,” Schwarber said. “It was pretty cool.”

Schwarber walked in the first inning against the Dodgers and tripled in the third, ripping a ball off the angled-wall in left-center field. The ball kicked toward center field, giving Schwarber a chance to run.

“I thought I was going to be like J.T. [Realmuto],” Schwarber said, referring to Realmuto’s inside-the-park home run in Game 4 of the 2022 NLDS. “I hit it, I saw it kick and I said, ‘Oh, here we go.’ [Third base coach] Dusty [Wathan] gave me the ‘down’ sign, and I started really panicking. Yeah, that’s what’s going through my mind. Luckily, we got in there safe.”

Schwarber scored on Bryce Harper’s one-out single to tie the game at 1-1. He walked and scored in a three-run fifth inning that gave the Phillies a 4-1 lead.

Phillies left-hander Ranger Suárez had another fantastic start, allowing just one run in six innings. He has a 1.83 ERA in his past three starts. The Dodgers tied the game in the seventh with back-to-back homers from Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, but Phillies lefties José Alvarado and Gregory Soto pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings, respectively, setting up Schwarber’s latest blast.

“I like the quality of at-bats that I’m getting into,” Schwarber said. “If it’s taking the walk or getting some good quality contact, the result is the result. Obviously, we want success and things like that. Heck, anyone would take a 70 mph hit vs. a 110 mph out, but that’s when you just try to go back to the quality of the at-bats.”

He had a few in the afternoon against Clemens. He had a few more at night against the Dodgers.

Clemens better ice up the arm.