CINCINNATI — Tired? Does J.T. Realmuto look tired?
Never mind that the Phillies’ All-Star catcher started behind the plate here Thursday for the 117th time in 139 games or that he has caught nearly 100 more innings than Milwaukee’s Yasmani Grandal, the next busiest catcher in the big leagues. He’s playing better now than perhaps at any other point in the season.
“To be honest, I feel better in September this year than I did last year,” Realmuto said Thursday. “I think it has a lot to do with playing for something, and obviously the crowd and the adrenaline has something to do with it. Just the fact that we’re in the race, that makes you forget about the fact that you’re so tired.”
Realmuto started Thursday’s matinee finale against the Cincinnati Reds, roughly 14 hours after the previous night’s game ended. He tripled and scored in the third inning, threw out a runner who was caught off second base in the seventh, and belted a game-tying solo homer in the eighth. It marked his career-high for homers (22) and runs batted in (75) in a season.
Over the last 35 games, Realmuto is batting .311 (42-for-135) with 10 homers and 29 RBIs. If the Phillies stay in the hunt for a wild-card spot, or even if they fall out of it, he’s going to receive National League most valuable player votes. Regardless, he’s emerging as the Phillies’ MVP. Realmuto is under control through next season, but signing him to a contract extension will be an offseason priority.
“He’s an amazingly clutch player,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He senses the big moment. Great throw. Big hit for us. J.T. has been rock-solid from every angle.”
Realmuto said he’s scheduled to play Friday and Saturday nights against the New York Mets at Citi Field before getting a breather Sunday.
Adam Haseley surprised even himself.
With the Phillies trailing by one run Wednesday night, the rookie center fielder made a leaping catch at the wall to rob a homer from Reds shortstop Freddy Galvis. But rather than indicating that he had caught the ball, Haseley took several steps before nonchalantly flipping it into his bare hand.
Was Haseley trying to fake everyone out?
"I think I was in shock," he said.
Said utilityman Brad Miller: "He's a showman."
Haseley fooled even the Phillies.
“We were all trying to figure it out,” Kapler said. “It took the dugout a while to recognize what just happened. Everybody was really happy for him. Everybody really likes Haseley. He’s so quiet. He just goes about his business and does things the right way. He’s looking like a major-league center fielder.”