The Phillies’ offensive onslaught against the Angels on Friday carried into the first inning of their game on Saturday night. Kyle Schwarber led off with a double, Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos walked, and J.T. Realmuto hit a double of his own to drive in two runs. Then, Bryson Stott walked, Johan Camargo singled to score Realmuto and Castellanos, and Mickey Moniak singled to score Stott.
By the end of the first inning, the Phillies had a 5-0 lead. Angels starter Michael Lorenzen seemed to hit a groove as the game went on, holding the Phillies to just one hit and one walk through the next five innings. But the Phillies’ piled on two more runs in the bottom of the eighth thanks to another two-RBI single by Carmargo, which proved to be enough for a 7-2 victory, their third straight win.
It wasn’t just that the Phillies were scoring; it was that they were scoring early and late. It was that they were getting men on base by drawing walks and driving them in. The Phillies tallied up seven walks Saturday night, which is tied for their most in a game this season. The last time they did it was May 13 in Los Angeles. If they can keep up that pace, that would be a big difference-maker for them.
Perhaps the biggest difference of all is that the Phillies seem to be enjoying themselves.
“I think the kids bring that,” Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said. “[Nick] Maton, Moniak, Stott. They’ve got energy. They run around. It’s fun. You know? They create it.”
Solid outing from Wheeler
The bar was high for Phillies starter Zack Wheeler, who was named the NL pitcher of the month for May and entered Saturday night’s game with a 22⅔-inning scoreless streak. That streak was snapped in the third inning, when Jared Walsh hit an RBI single. Walsh also drove in Shohei Ohtani with an RBI double off Wheeler in the fifth.
Wheeler finished his night at six innings pitched, allowing six hits, two earned runs, two walks and nine strikeouts. It was a solid outing, and more than enough to keep the Phillies in the game. All of his strikeouts came on his fastball.
“My fastball was playing well today even though my velocity wasn’t really there,” Wheeler said. “I didn’t have my best command so I was just relying on my fastball.”
Hand becoming a reliever the Phillies can trust
Left-handed pitcher Brad Hand came in for Wheeler on Saturday night in the top of the seventh and proceeded to throw a 1-2-3 frame. Hand hasn’t allowed an earned run since May 4. He now has a 1.13 ERA through 23 games this season.
Bohm’s hitting struggles continue
In the bottom of the first inning, third baseman Alec Bohm struck out swinging on a 95 mph fastball. It was his sixth strikeout over his past seven games. Over that span, Bohm is batting .036/.097/.036. Over his last 15 games, he’s batting .159/.206/.222.
Bohm went back to the dugout with his bat in hand and slammed it multiple times against the bat rack. It ricocheted back at his neck, causing a stream of blood to trickle down his neck.
It isn’t clear why Bohm’s struggles started, or why they are as bad as they are, but his frustration is palpable.
“That’s a situation there where you don’t want to see a guy get hurt, but guys do get frustrated,” Thomson said. “And they bang the bat rack every once in a while.”
J.T. Realmuto is hitting his stride
Realmuto, the Phillies’ catcher, spent a decent chunk of the season searching for the right stance, messing with his leg kick, and clearly found something that works. Realmuto went 3-for-4 on Saturday and has recorded at least one hit in his past six games. He hit a career high three doubles on Saturday night.
The young guys will get continue to get some looks
It was the young guys — Stott, Moniak, Bohm, and Maton — who showed up big for the Phillies in Friday’s win, and on Saturday, three of them were penciled into the lineup again — Maton is day-to-day with a sore right shoulder. A criticism of former manager Joe Girardi was he didn’t play the Phillies’ younger players regularly enough. When asked whether playing younger players will be a priority for him, Thomson said it “absolutely” would.
“They’re starting to feel comfortable,” he said. “They bring energy every day, and we need energy. And they’re playing good defense, they’re covering space on defense, these guys are ready to go. And they’re a big asset to the ball club.”
» READ MORE: Who is Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson?
Moniak was the only younger player to record a hit in Saturday’s game, but it seems like now those players don’t have to worry about losing at-bats if they don’t perform the way they’re expected to, at least not right away.