The Drew Ellis Game: Phillies crush Nationals to end road trip with a series win
WASHINGTON — The Phillies’ newest position player had the game of his life in Sunday’s blowout win, while two of their high-priced veterans are heating up.
Drew Ellis and Kyle Schwarber homered twice apiece and J.T. Realmuto went deep for the second straight game in an 11-3 win over the Nationals.
The Phillies (27-32) took two in a row this weekend for a series victory over the Nats and ended their NL East road trip with a 4-6 record.
They need this to be the start of something big for Schwarber and Realmuto, who both slumped throughout most of April and May. Schwarber hit three-run homers in the sixth and ninth innings. Realmuto homered to center in his first at-bat, a day after snapping out of a 3-for-43 slump with a double and a solo shot.
Ellis homered for the first time as a Phillie to give them a fourth-inning lead. He added a two-run blast in the seventh when the Phils turned it into a laugher.
Ellis started at third base over Edmundo Sosa. It was an unexpected choice with Ranger Suarez, who gets a lot of groundballs to the left side, on the mound. Rob Thomson has liked the quality of Ellis’ plate appearances so the Phillies’ manager rode with him in the series finale.
Ellis was on his couch less than two months ago, wondering if his big-league career had already ended. He thought Independent ball might be the next step.
“I was talking to my agent and I was like, ‘Is this it?'” he recalled this week. “To be in this position, it’s a real blessing, I’m super grateful.”
He might have bought himself an extended stay in the majors.
Ellis went 3-for-3 with the two bombs, an infield single and two walks. He is the first Phillie since Ryan Howard in July 2007 to go 3-for-3 or better with multiple homers and walks in a game.
The right-handed-hitting utilityman has reached base in eight of 14 plate appearances with the Phillies after posting a 1.009 OPS in 92 plate appearances split between Double A and Triple A. He was called up Thursday morning when the Phils placed Alec Bohm on the injured list with a hamstring strain.
Schwarber broke the game open with a three-run homer with two outs in the sixth. The Nationals removed starter Trevor Williams for right-handed reliever Andres Machado and Schwarber crushed a 97 mph sinker into the seats in right field. He would have faced a lefty reliever had the Phillies been playing any of the other 28 teams in Major League Baseball. The Nationals, for whatever reason, do not have a single left-hander in their bullpen. It allowed Thomson to stack his lefties atop the lineup in Game 1 of the series and certainly simplifies the later innings of a close game.
Schwarber’s first three-run home run was the Phillies’ first since Bohm’s on April 10, snapping a team drought of 220 homer-less plate appearances with two men on base. He did it again three innings later. Law of averages.
Suarez maneuvered around early traffic to allow one run over seven innings. He allowed a hit in six of his seven frames but the Nationals put multiple men on base only twice. Suarez received some handshakes after the fifth inning and it appeared his afternoon would soon be over, but he went back out and retired the side 1-2-3 in the sixth, then induced an inning-ending double play in the seventh.
Suarez has made back-to-back quality starts against the Mets (6 IP, 2 ER) and Nationals after struggling in his first three. He did not make any starts in spring training because of an elbow injury and pitched only nine innings during his rehab assignment, so rust was likely a factor in those first three outings when he put two men on base per inning with an ERA over 9.00.
The Phillies’ lineup had a productive day throughout. Red-hot Nick Castellanos had multiple hits for the sixth time in the last 10 games. He hit .439 on the 10-game road trip. Bryce Harper doubled and walked twice. Bryson Stott manufactured a seventh-inning run by singling, stealing second, advancing to third on a wild pitch and scoring on a Brandon Marsh sacrifice fly.
The Phils are home Monday to begin a three-game series against the offensively challenged Tigers, who just lost their best pitcher (Eduardo Rodriguez) and best hitter (Riley Greene) to long-term injuries.