To clap or not to clap for the struggling Trea Turner?
That was the question everyone was asking ahead of the Phillies’ homestand. When Alec Bohm received a standing ovation last year, he went on a tear. On Friday, cheers roared through Citizens Bank Park before Turner’s first at-bat, and it did not take him long to answer. Turner recorded a hit in all three games this series, including an RBI single in game one and a mammoth, three-run, go-ahead homer in game two.
And of course, we’ll never know for sure, but you have to wonder how much the support from the fans played a role in Turner’s four-hit, five-RBI weekend. Because it certainly was not a coincidence.
Despite the Phillies’ loss in game one, Turner and the Phillies were fired up by the support from Philadelphia. As Turner received his ovation, Nick Castellanos could be seen excitedly waving a towel above the Phils’ dugout. Many of the Phillies players also joined in on the clapping.
“I thought it was pretty [explicit] cool,” Turner said after game one. “The fans have my back. They’re showing up for me. It’s pretty cool to see. I wish we could have come out with the win right there, but that was awesome.”
Matter of fact, the Phillies did “come out with the win” the following day, and Turner played a paramount part in the victory.
Alec Bohm got things started for the Phillies, sending a two-run home run into the left-field stands to give Philadelphia a 2-0 lead. Cris Sanchez, who got the ball for the Phillies, did not have his best stuff and surrendered five runs over five innings of work. Down three, Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer to bring the Phils within one, and after many months of struggles and disappointments, Trea Turner finally had his moment when the fans were the most invested.
With two on and no one out, Turner turned on a first-pitch fastball, crushing it well over the left field wall.
“It was a good one because I hadn’t done that in a long time. It’d been a minute,” Turner said about his first long ball since July 8. “That’s what I want to do: be a complete hitter, drive the ball, and make a difference in games. Given the last few days, it felt really good.”
After months of inconsistency, the right guys are finally heating up at the right time—the big five. Nick Castellanos has a .948 OPS through his first six games of August. Bryce Harper went 5-11 in the series, and he was inches away from his seventh home run of the season in game three. J.T. Realmuto has a .280 average and a .840 OPS in his last seven games.
Finally, things are clicking.
And Kyle Schwarber, the last, unmentioned name in the big five, snapped his 0-19 streak with a go-ahead home run in a game that many thought would be out of reach after the first inning on Sunday. Taijuan Walker, who drew the start for the Phillies in the rubber match, allowed three runs on five hits in the top of the first inning alone. His fastball was staying up in the zone and sat at just 89 miles per hour, which is a feeling Walker has experienced before. In his last start against Miami, it took him a few innings to fine-tune his velocity and command.
But after allowing four runs in 1.2 innings of work today, it was not looking like Walker would have time to settle in. However, he proved everyone wrong. Walker allowed just one hit after the second inning and went on to pitch seven frames, earning himself win number 13 on the season, which leads Major League Baseball.
“I don’t know whether [Walker] is going through some dead arm, or what it is, but the one thing about Taijuan is he just competes,” Phillies’ manager Rob Thomson told the media after the game. “Even if he doesn’t have his good stuff, he finds a way. He just keeps battling. He adapts, adjusts, and just competes. It’s incredible what he can do.
In the fifth, Nick Castellanos clubbed his 17th home run of the season, extending the Phillies lead to three. One of the game’s most important runs, though, came in the seventh when Bryce Harper’s sacrifice fly gave the Phils a four-run lead, allowing Craig Kimbrel to get a day of rest before a four-game set with the Washington Nationals.
And even though he did not leave the yard in game three like Schwarber, Castellanos, and Bohm, Bryce Harper was as hype as ever following the Phillies’ win on Sunday: “I have so much emotion toward [the fanbase] because I absolutely freaking love it. I don’t want to play anywhere else. I wish I started my career here.”
Same, Bryce, same. But we will gladly take your 13 years!
Now, after taking two of three from the Royals, the Phillies are a season-high ten games over .500 with the last-place Nationals coming to Philadelphia.