Pitching staff rolling right along as Phillies beat Nats again (2024)

WASHINGTON — The Phillies jumped on the Nationals in the second inning for the second straight day, riding an Alec Bohm triple and a J.T. Realmuto longball to a 5-2 road win.

Nats right fielder Lane Thomas misplayed a Bohm single into a triple, which scored Realmuto from first with nobody out in the top of the second. The Phillies stranded Bohm at third with three consecutive groundouts, continuing a theme of missed opportunities, but finally cashed in the next inning.

Trea Turner doubled with one out in the third and Dave Martinez chose to intentionally walk Bryce Harper. Jake Irvin worked ahead of Realmuto with two curveballs in the zone but his third one hung over the middle of the plate and Realmuto hit it 390 feet for a three-run homer.

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"I know it comes with the job hitting four-hole on this team," Realmuto said. "For me, it's more important to just take it like another bat and not try to go up there and get vengeance or do too much. Just try to treat it like any other at-bat."

It's just over a week into the season but Realmuto has looked more comfortable and in control at the plate. In 2023, he swung and missed at a career-high rate and expanded the strike zone as much as ever before. It was an offseason focus and the work appears to be paying off. He's 9-for-27 (.333) so far with two homers, important production in the lineup spot that protects Harper.

"I think the biggest difference is just my swing direction, my approach staying to right-center and trusting that swing path," he said. "Any time I start looking in or cheating to pull, that's when things go south for me and my front hip leaks early. Usually, if my direction is good and I'm going to right-center, that's when I'm at my best, and I feel like I can do that more consistently.

"Any time you make adjustments, you want to be good with it right away and succeed with it because when things go south and you're not feeling good, you start changing. The adjustments I made aren't anything I haven't done before. My swing right now is just like it was in 2018, 2019, I've just gotten back to some things I was doing before that were putting myself in a better position more often. The last two years, I kind of got away from it."

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The Phillies won Friday's series opener, 4-0, and all wins count the same, but it could have been closer to 14-0. They stranded runners in eight of nine innings and multiple runners in four. Entering Saturday, they'd left 20 men on base over two games and went 6-for-32 with runners in scoring position over four. They needed a swing like Realmuto's, and Brandon Marsh came through with an RBI single in the ninth to provide important insurance.

Getting Nick Castellanos going is surely a priority. The Phils' right fielder is 4-for-26 (.148) without an extra-base hit but ended his afternoon by snapping an 0-for-18 skid with a sixth-inning single up the middle, then walking in the ninth. Through all the streakiness, Castellanos had consistently hit out of the gate, batting .300 or better in four of the last five Aprils. This is as slowly as he's ever started.

Ranger Suarez went six strong, extending the Phillies' streak of strong rotation performances. Aside from Aaron Nola's clunker in the second game of the season, Phillies starting pitchers have a 1.86 ERA.

Joey Gallo took Suarez deep for the 200th home run of his career but the lefty cruised from there. Only one of the final 10 hitters Suarez faced reached base, and that was via a Trea Turner error before he was promptly caught stealing.

Jeff Hoffman turned in another solid outing, picking up all three outs in the seventh inning on six pitches and the first two outs of the eighth. Not only did he help the Phillies reach the finish line Saturday afternoon, he saved them from having to use Matt Strahm or Seranthony Dominguez for a second straight day, which would have rendered them unavailable for Sunday.

It was the eighth time as a Phillie that Hoffman recorded at least five outs. In those eight appearances, he's pitched 15 scoreless innings, allowed eight hits, struck out 16 and walked one.

"Him and Strahm, one's right-handed and one's left-handed but they do kind of the same thing and you can use them in multiple spots," manager Rob Thomson said. "Both of those guys can close out games, they can go high-leverage, they can come into a dirty inning and go out the next inning. They're just Swiss army knives and that's value."

Jose Alvarado closed out the win with his fourth straight hitless, scoreless appearance. He's pitched two days in a row so Thomson may turn to Dominguez in a save opportunity Sunday if it arises.

The 4-4 Phillies try for a sweep Sunday afternoon with lefties Cristopher Sanchez and Mackenzie Gore on the mound. Gore has allowed 13 earned runs and four homers over 7⅔ innings in his last two starts against the Phils.

Pitching staff rolling right along as Phillies beat Nats again (2024)


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