The Phillies opened the month of June with a new face in the lineup and, dare we say, a little fight in their way of doing business.
Nick Maton, called up from Triple A earlier in the day to replace injured second baseman Jean Segura, clubbed a two-run home run to rev up the four-run, sixth-inning rally that the Phillies used to beat the San Francisco Giants, 6-5, at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night.
Moments after Maton’s big hit, Kyle Schwarber belted a two-run homer to give the Phillies the lead and get Aaron Nola off the hook after he hit a wall in the top of the inning and gave up five runs.
The win, which snapped a five-game losing streak, prevented the Phillies from being swept in a second straight series. They remain a country mile behind the first-place Mets in the NL East, but it could be worse. The Mets won their sixth game in a row Wednesday. Had the Phillies lost, the deficit would have risen to 13 ½ games. Instead, it stayed at 12 ½.
How badly did the Phils need this win?
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“Well, I think we needed a win before today, but, yeah, we needed it bad,” manager Joe Girardi said. “This is a great way to go into an off day.”
The Phils won without Bryce Harper, who was out with a sore right forearm. Girardi said the soreness did not seem to be related to the ligament tear in Harper’s elbow.
“Our hope is that with a good day of treatment, he’ll be back Friday,” Girardi said.
The Phillies are idle on Thursday before hosting Mike Trout, Shoei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
After going 10-18 in May, the Phils opened the new month with 10 hits, including the homers by Maton and Schwarber. It was the first time the Phils hit two homers in the same inning since May 14.
The Phils did their damage in the sixth against lefty Jarlin Garcia, who had held lefty hitters to a .154 batting average (19 for 123) and one homer since the start of 2021.
Odubel Herrera, Bryson Stott, Maton and Schwarber, all lefty hitters, had hits against Garcia in the inning. Maton’s and Schwarber’s put crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
Schwarber’s homer came on a 3-0 pitch.
Why did Girardi give him the green light?
“Because he’s Kyle Schwarber,” the manager said.
Schwarber was determined to take a rip if he got a strike.
“I had the green light the other day against that guy and I took it,” Schwarber said. “That’s all I could think about. ‘If it’s there, I’m not taking it.’
“It was nice to hit that out and get a couple points there. The bullpen shut it down and here we are with a win.”
In addition to the two longballs, the Phils played a little small ball – three singles and a stolen base for a run in the second inning and a successful safety squeeze by Maton in the fourth after Herrera survived an adventure on the bases. Maton finished with three RBIs. Stott had two hits and scored two runs.
“The young guys did a really good job tonight,” Schwarber said. “Maton with the home runs and the bunt was a big play. Stott had a couple big hits. They played good defense. I think they deserve a lot of credit. They weren’t overtaken by the moment.”
Maton might have a chance to stick around with Segura out up to 12 weeks.
“If I’m in the lineup, I’ll do whatever I can to help the team,” Maton said.
Nola had a mystifying outing. He allowed a double to open the game then retired 15 in a row and got to the sixth inning with a 2-0 lead.
Nola faded under the weight of a series of two-strike hits and was tagged for five runs in the inning.
Donovan Walton doubled on a 2-2 changeup, Jason Vosler doubled on a 2-2 curveball and Tommy LaStella singled on a 1-2 fastball. That hit tied the score. Nola then hit Mike Yastrzemski with a 2-2 pitch and Wilmer Flores followed with a three-run homer on an 0-1 curveball to make it 5-2, Giants.
It was clear that Girardi was working with a short bullpen. While Nola was teetering, he did not get a reliever up in the bullpen until after the Flores home run. Nola was able to gather himself after the homer and get three outs. He entered the sixth with just 59 pitches and needed 32 to get through the inning.
“I got some early outs and quick innings, put up five zeroes,” Nola said. “In the sixth, I made some bad two-strike pitches.”
Nola would have been in line for the loss if his teammates didn’t rally in the bottom of the sixth. Instead, he got the win – thanks to the offense and the shutout bullpen work of Cristopher Sanchez, Brad Hand and Corey Knebel.