Rob Thomson gave All-Star right fielder Nick Castellanos a much-needed day off on Monday, when the Phillies played their first game of four in Miami. With his off day, Castellanos’ July line at the plate came to a close, and it definitely was not a pretty one. In 99 at-bats, Castellanos hit .162 and slugged just .303 in what was undoubtedly the most unproductive month he has had as a Phillie.
Without Castellanos, the Phillies won their final game of July as Taijuan Walker had another strong outing, throwing 6.2 innings of two-run ball. Johan Rojas, whose first career extra-base hit was a game-tying double in the fourth inning, and Alec Bohm led the Phillies’ offense to the 4-2 win closed out by Craig Kimbrel.
But instead of spending the day lounging with his family in South Beach, Castellanos called his friend in the Miami area and asked him to throw batting practice, in hopes that his August stat line would tell a different story.
And so far, it has.
On Tuesday, his son’s birthday, Castellanos was back in right field, and he began August in a momentous way. With the game tied in the ninth inning, Castellanos capitalized when David Robertson hung a two-strike breaking ball over the heart of the plate. Robertson’s 401-foot mistake gave the Phillies not only a ninth-inning lead, but also gave Liam Castellanos, Nick’s son, an unforgettable birthday gift on the same day the Phillies earned an unforgettable victory.
“…[S]ometimes, baseball does not go the Phillies way,” Nick Castellanos told Phillies’ TV broadcasters Tom McCarthy and Ruben Amaro, Jr. after the Phillies’ Tuesday night win. “You’re not going to find a group of guys who care more and want to win for each other than the guys in this dugout… That matters the most because not every dugout is like that.”
Just like Tuesday, Wednesday was unforgettable, but not for the reason Phillies fans were hoping for.
Early on, the offense was as alive as we’ve seen. RBI from Nick Castellanos, Bryson Stott, Garrett Stubbs, and Alec Bohm gave the Phillies a comfortable five-run lead. Zack Wheeler, who had thrown five shutout innings up until the sixth, allowed back-to-back home runs to Josh Bell and Jazz Chisholm, Jr., cutting the Phils’ lead to three.
Rob Thomson was hoping to avoid using Gregory Soto, who has pitched a lot in the absence of Jose Alvarado, but after a single, three walks, and an RBI groundout allowed by Matt Strahm and Jeff Hoffman in the eighth inning, the Marlins pulled within one, and the Phillies were forced to go to Soto for the ninth. With one out in the inning, Jorge Soler launched a game-tying homer to centerfield, sending the game to extras. Brandon Marsh wacked a pinch-hit, two-run home run, and Craig Kimbrel—who Thomson was also hoping to give an extra day of rest—came in for the tenth. The Marlins quickly noticed that Kimbrel was tipping his pitches, so Kimbrel got hit around, and the Marlins re-tied the game.
The Phillies were an out away from winning the game thanks to an Alec Bohm RBI single, but Trea Turner booted a groundball—which should have ended the game—in the home half of the eleventh inning, adding a not-so-positive exclamation mark to Turner’s already rough evening. The ball that squirmed past Turner allowed the tying run to score, and the Phillies were ultimately walked off an inning later, when Jesus Sanchez’s bloop single won the game.
So how did Trea Turner react to the Phillies’ loss?
First, he took ownership: Obviously, I am the reason why we lost that game,” Turner said to reporters in the Phillies’ clubhouse. “I am frustrated, but I only know one thing: to keep working. So that’s what I am going to do.”
Evidently, Turner meant exactly what he said. Looking to rekindle his 2022 form, he hit in the batting cages at LoanDepot Park until midnight.
But unlike Castellanos, the impact was not immediate.
Turner went 0-3 in the Phillies’ 4-2 win over the Marlins in game four, but his at-bats were a lot stronger, and he made better contact. He also aided in multiple double plays, keeping Michael Lorenzen’s pitch count low enough to throw eight innings of two-run ball in his Phillies debut.
Amid Turner’s long-lasting struggles, his teammates remain optimistic. “Not a single person in the clubhouse with a Phillies jersey has lost confidence in what he is able to do,” Nick Castellanos said.