Strahm's epic K of Ohtani helps Phillies to 60th win

July 11th, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- still remembers the time he faced David Ortiz in a big spot in a tight game at Fenway Park in 2016.

Strahm calls it a core memory.

He was a rookie then. He is a veteran now. He is a first-time National League All-Star. So while Strahm felt differently facing Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani with runners at the corners and one out in the seventh inning of Wednesday night’s 4-3 victory at Citizens Bank Park, he still recognized the enormity of the talent at the plate and the significance of the moment in a series between two National League powerhouses.

“He’s one of the greatest ever to pick up a bat,” Strahm said.

Strahm entered the game trying to preserve a two-run lead. He threw Ohtani a first-pitch sinker for a called strike. Ohtani swung and missed at a slider to fall behind 0-2.

“Just stick to who I am and attack,” Strahm said about his plan against Ohtani. “That’s all I do, throw strikes.”

Strahm threw Ohtani a four-seam fastball just off the plate. Somehow, Ohtani did not swing to make it a 1-2 count.

Strahm threw another nasty slider. Ohtani swung feebly at it. He missed by a mile. His helmet almost fell off his head.

The crowd roared.

“I mean, swing and miss or not, that’s kind of the pitch that I’ve developed in my time here with the Phillies,” Strahm said about his slider. “I’ll throw it to anyone.”

It was a cool moment, but Strahm wasn’t finished. He still needed to get Teoscar Hernández to end the inning.

Hernández lined out to right field on the first pitch.

Strahm walked off the mound. He pumped his fist. He slapped his glove a couple times.

He was pumped.

“You saw it all come out after Hernández,” Strahm said. “You know the situation, you know your game. I’m in here to get two outs. Yeah, it’s Ohtani for the first one, but I’ve got to make sure I get the second one. The second one is the most important.”

It reminded Strahm of his at-bat against Ortiz in 2016. It was only the 10th appearance of Strahm’s career. He was pitching for the Royals then. He looked completely different.

He had short hair, nothing like the long locks he sports today.

“I remember it very vividly,” he said. “[Royals catcher Salvador Perez] called a curveball. I shook him. He called the curveball again. I shook him. He turned his head sideways, he gave me the heater and that’s what I wanted.”

Strahm threw Ortiz a 1-2 fastball on the outside corner.


“I think it was like 114 mph ground-ball double play,” Strahm said, laughing.

Indeed, Ortiz hit the ball 105.5 mph to second base for an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

“That wasn’t the situation tonight, but when you get to face guys like that, you obviously remember them a lot more,” Strahm said.

Strahm helped the Phillies to their 60th win of the season. The Phils and Dodgers entered the series as the two best teams in the NL. Philadelphia can sweep L.A. with a victory on Thursday night.

Phillies left-hander Cristopher Sánchez allowed two runs in six innings, rebounding from a rough start last week against the Cubs, when he gave up seven runs in four innings at Wrigley Field. Manager Rob Thomson said then that Sánchez felt the effects of throwing the first shutout of his career in his previous start, but he said before Wednesday’s game that Sánchez pitched with strep throat in Chicago.

“It was pretty bad,” Sánchez said via the team’s interpreter. “I had a fever, my body hurt, I had a sore throat. I decided myself that I wanted to pitch.”

Sánchez was 100% on Wednesday.

Kyle Schwarber hit a leadoff homer for the Phillies in the bottom of the first inning to give them a 1-0 lead. It was Schwarber’s eighth leadoff homer of the season, his 26th with the Phillies and the 39th of his career. Schwarber returned from the 10-day injured list before Tuesday’s series opener and has three RBIs in his first two games back.

But it was Strahm’s battle against Ohtani that had fans rocking late.

“That was the biggest part of the game,” Thomson said.