PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Cristopher Sánchez was shocked when he heard Kyle Schwarber‘s name fell in a question to the Spanish-speaking pitcher.
Sanchez said through a translator that after returning to the clubhouse after five shutout innings, he had one thing to say to a coach about his sluggish teammate: “Thank God I have him by my side now.”
“I feel like we’re doing a really good job of not going outside the box and doing more,” Schwarber said.
Schwarber never got the memo that the calendar has flipped from June to July. The NL Player of the Month picked up the slack for an injured Bryce Harper when he hit 12 home runs in June and fired the Phillies into a wildcard battle. Just days into July, Schwarber hasn’t slowed down — and neither have the Phillies.
“It’s a lot of fun. He seems to be in the middle of everything,” said Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson.
Schwarber opened the game against Paolo Espino (0-2) with his third leadoff homer this season and number 16 for his career. His shot to the center sent Victor Robles dangling over the fence in a futile attempt to get hold of the ball.
Schwarber left no doubt in the third, drilling a solo shot into the second deck on the right for his 18th career multi-home game. It was his fifth homer in eight games.
His list of prodigious power stats goes almost as long as any of his undoubted home runs: Schwarber’s 25 homers are the sixth most ever for a Phillie before the All-Star break — and he’s just six homers away from matching it. record of 31 set by Mike Schmidt in 1979. He has seven home runs in 12 games, a display of power that seemed familiar in the Washington dugout; he hit 25 home runs in 72 games for the Nationals last season before being traded to Boston.
“We’ve seen it before,” said Nationals manager Dave Martinez. “You drop a ball over the plate in front of him or let a ball into the zone, he can hit it far. Tonight was a perfect example of that.”
The Phillies reached the halfway mark of their season – Tuesday marked Game No. 81 – percentage points ahead of St. Louis for the final NL wildcard. They got a nice boost from Sánchez, who in his first start since being recalled by Triple-A Lehigh over five innings threw two-hit ball over five innings to fill in for the injured Ranger Suarez (back cramp). Sánchez (1-1) didn’t do anything special about 82 pitches, but combined with three relievers, the Phillies helped win the opener of the three-game set.
The Nationals scuffle again played without star outfielder Juan Soto (calf) in the starting lineup.
The Phillies scored two more in the fourth when homer-lucky Darick Hall (his first three big league hits were homeruns) doubled from the fill above the center 401 mark. Realmuto added a sacrifice fly and Bohm scored Hall on an RBI single for a 4-0 lead.
Hall singled in the fifth and scored on Realmuto’s seventh homer of the season.
The streaking Phillies are 22-9 since June 1, and 21-9 under Thomson. He is the second Phillies manager to start with so many wins in his first 30 games. They did their damage with the bats, winning 18 of their last 20 when they scored four plus runs.
They only reached that total by a sixth of five runs, culminating in Bohm’s two-run single.
“We are starting to understand each other. We are all coming closer together as a group,” said Schwarber.
Nationals: DH Nelson Cruz was a late scratch with a disease. Former Phillie Maikel Franco got the start.
Phillies: LHP claimed Sam Clay from waivers from the Nationals and chose him for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. … SS Didi Gregorius missed a third game in a row with a sore left knee.
Nationals infielder Alcides Escobar threw a scoreless eighth pitch, mostly in the 40-50 mph range. He plopped Bohm down with a 47.5 mph curveball.
Harper said he will return from his broken left thumb and play this season. Harper has set no timetable for his return. Harper was injured late last month when he was hit by a 97 mph throw from San Diego Padres southpaw Blake Snell. The 2021 NL MVP received three pins in his thumb during surgery that will remain there for at least another three weeks.
“If I knew a specific date I’d be back, I’d tell you,” Harper said. “I just don’t think it’s fair to anyone. I’ll be back when I’m ready to go.”
The Phillies send RHP Aaron Nola (5-5, 3.13 ERA) to the mound against Washington RHP Josiah Gray (6-5, 4.22 ERA).
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