Red-hot Phils tally six-run 1st, never look back

August 7th, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies once wooed Patrick Corbin.

They brought him to Citizens Bank Park in November 2018 to convince him to come to Philadelphia. They put a picture of him in a Phillies uniform on Phanavision. They touted their chances to win. They offered him a five-year deal. But Corbin rejected the Phillies. He accepted a six-year, $140 million contract from the Nationals instead. He helped them win the 2019 World Series.

Corbin and the Nationals have their championship rings. Flags fly forever. But the Phillies are better off.

They pounded Corbin for six runs in just 2/3 of an inning in Saturday night’s 11-5 victory over the Nationals. The Phillies hold the third NL Wild Card. They have a one-game lead over the Brewers.

“It’s great to jump out and get the lead,” Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said. “We stung the ball all night long. Right through the lineup.”

Rhys Hoskins crushed a 441-foot solo home run to left field with one out in the first inning to get things going. It tied for the third-longest homer of Hoskins’ career. It was the third consecutive game he homered in the first inning. No Phillies player has done that since at least 1900, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Corbin walked Alec Bohm. Nick Castellanos hit a two-out single to right to put runners on the corners. Matt Vierling ripped a 1-2 slider for a three-run homer to left field. The Phillies once coveted Corbin because of his slider. Batters hit .145 with a .242 slugging percentage against it in 2018 with Arizona.

The slider has gotten less effective every year since.

Hitters are batting .299 with a .528 slugging percentage against it this season.

Jean Segura singled, Edmundo Sosa got hit with a pitch and Bryson Stott tripled to score two more runs to make it 6-0. Corbin walked Kyle Schwarber, the 10th batter to come to the plate in the inning.

Corbin’s night was finished.

So while the Phillies fell short in their pursuit of Corbin, it allowed them to sign Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million contract in December 2019.

They are lucky they did.

Corbin is 15-39 with a 5.98 ERA and -1.5 bWAR in 65 starts since his first season in Washington in 2019. Wheeler, meanwhile, is 28-17 with a 2.78 ERA and 14.3 WAR in 63 starts since he joined the Phillies.

Philadelphia scored three more runs in the second, which included a triple from J.T. Realmuto. He hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning. Realmuto is the first Phillies player since at least 1901 to triple and homer in consecutive games, according to Baseball Reference. He is the first catcher in baseball since at least 1901 to do it.

“That’s the sign of a good club,” Thomson said. “It’s a different guy every night. Tonight was a whole bunch of guys.”

The Phillies have won nine of their last ten games. They can sweep the four-game series with a victory Sunday. They are 11 games over .500 for the first time since May 29, 2019, when they were 33-22. It is the latest in a season they have been 11 games over .500 since Aug. 23, 2018, when they were 69-58.

The biggest difference between these Phillies and the 2018 Phillies?

These Phillies seem to be hitting their stride. They are 37-19 since Thomson became interim manager on June 3. It is the third-best record in baseball behind the Dodgers (39-16) and Braves (39-18). The 2018 Phillies, meanwhile, were in the early stages of an epic collapse. They had lost nine of 14 games to fall to 69-58 on Aug. 23. They went 11-24 the rest of the way.

“We’re swinging it well right now,” Vierling said. “Just roll the hot streak.”