Phillies vs. Nationals: J.T. Realmuto breaks out of slump in Phils win
WASHINGTON — The last two weeks have been the coldest stretch of J.T. Realmuto’s five seasons with the Phillies but he finally broke out Saturday afternoon, doubling and scoring the Phils’ first run and homering in the sixth inning of a 4-2 win.
Realmuto had hit .070 over his prior 14 games, going 3-for-43 without an RBI. He’s been expanding the strike zone and the timing of his leg kick has been off.
He went 0-for-5 in Friday’s loss, grounding out to the left side four times and popping up to first base to end the game. On Saturday, Realmuto doubled to left in the second inning against Nationals left-hander Mackenzie Gore and came around to score on a Josh Harrison single. Four innings later, Realmuto took Gore deep to left-center for his first home run since April 30 in Houston.
He wasn’t the only struggling Phillie who played a role in Saturday’s win. Trea Turner hit a two-out RBI double in the third inning and walked in the eighth when the Phils added an insurance run. Harrison, who has barely played over the last six weeks, singled in his first two plate appearances. It was a rare start at second base in place of Bryson Stott for Harrison, who had been 2-for-24 over the Phillies’ last 36 games.
Matt Strahm started a bullpen game and retired all six hitters he faced on just 22 pitches before giving way in the third inning to Andrew Vasquez. The Nationals scored their two runs in the fourth inning when three consecutive batters singled off Dylan Covey. The inning ended with a double play that involved a rundown and allowed the tying run to score.
Reliever Yunior Marte pitched an important, shutdown sixth inning after Realmuto homered to give the Phillies the lead. The hard-throwing right-hander has been quietly effective since returning from Triple A on May 20, pitching 7 scoreless innings.
Gregory Soto, Seranthony Dominguez and Craig Kimbrel followed with scoreless frames to close it out.
The Phillies are 26-32 as they go for a series win Sunday afternoon. It will be a losing NL East road trip no matter what, but 4-6 would look a whole lot better than 3-7.
The Phils will start Ranger Suarez (0-2, 7.13) against journeyman right-hander Trevor Williams (2-3, 3.93).