Under new management: Can weekend sweep stop Phillies swoon?

Jun 5, 2022, 9:37 PM | Updated: Jun 6, 2022, 9:41 am

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryson Stott is doused by teammates after hitting a walkoff three-run home r...

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryson Stott is doused by teammates after hitting a walkoff three-run home run during the ninth inning of a baseball game off Los Angeles Angels' Jimmy Herget, Sunday, June 5, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

(AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Kyle Schwarber mashed the first pitch for the Phillies under their new Canadian manager for a home run and Bryson Stott sent the final pitch of a weekend sweep into the right field seats.

Make it 3-0 for interim manger Rob Thomson.

Philadelphia’s season — with a team loaded with All-Stars, an MVP and the fourth-highest payroll in baseball — just might not be dead yet.

The Phillies put everything together in a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels and showed flashes of why they were a trendy preseason playoff pick following a free-agent spending spree.

The front end of the rotation delivered: Zack Wheeler struck out nine in six innings in Saturday’s win and Zach Eflin tossed eight shutout innings on Friday.

The weekend ended with an impressive comeback capped by Bryce Harper’s tying grand slam in the eighth inning followed by Stott’s winning, three-run homer with two outs in the ninth.

Where were these Phillies during the season’s first two months?

It’s a question president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski surely wondered last week before he fired manager Joe Girardi after two-plus seasons without a whiff of the postseason. The Phillies had lost 12 of 17 and dropped well out of the NL East race when Dombrowski dismissed Girardi, who won a World Series with the Yankees, and promoted Girardi’s long-time bench coach and close friend in Thomson.

Three wins, 26 runs, and a comeback that had kids crying later, and the Phillies entered Monday 4½ games out of the second NL wild card. Yes, the wins came against an Angeles team that left Philly on an 11-game losing streak and Mike Trout in a career-worst slump. But the rest of the schedule might actually break in the Phillies’ favor.

“I hate talking about it’s early, it’s early,” Harper said. “It’s not so early. We’ve got to go. We’ve got to play our game and understand that we’re a good team in here.”

The Phillies open a three-game series Tuesday at NL Central-leading Milwaukee. Then comes six games at home against the sub-.500 Diamondbacks and Marlins. Then four games at Washington (only the Reds are worse in the NL) and two games at Texas.

That’s 13 straight games from June 10-22 against teams with losing records.

And, yes, even with four straight wins, the Phillies have a losing record at 25-29.

The 58-year-old Thomson is charged with getting the Phillies and their $233 million payroll back over .500 and into the playoffs for the first time since 2011, the longest postseson drought in the National League.

Thomson is set on giving some of the younger Phillies regular playing time, with Stott paying immediate results.

Stott, one of Harper’s closest friends, hit his first big league home run on Friday and followed with the winner on Sunday. The 24-year-old infielder made the Phillies out of spring training only to get sent to the minors in late April after Girardi rarely played him. Stott started all three games against Los Angeles at shortstop and doesn’t figure to leave the lineup any time soon.

“Being able to put our trust in our young guys the last couple of days and really let them play, it’s been great,” Harper said.

Girardi stuck with veterans such as Didi Gregorious while Thomson played Mickey Moniak twice over Odubel Herrera in center field against the Angles and started Nick Maton at second base in the opener. Maton sprained his right shoulder on a diving catch and went on the injured list. Thomson has also stuck with Alec Bohm and let the error-prone third baseman try and swing his way out of a slump.

“I’m a little bit different than Joe. I’m not going to go into the differences, but I like to think that I’m prepared and I’m a good communicator with these guys,” Thomson said. “The plan is to make sure that all these guys know where they’re supposed to be at any given time whether it’s our bullpen, the lineup, whatever it is. I just want to make sure that the guys are prepared.”

They were prepared against the Angels, and certainly Harper’s three homers and eight RBIs over the three games covered a lot of blemishes. But problems persist: Nick Castellanos and Schwarber need to start hitting and Dombrowski should scour the trade market to tighten the bullpen; Corey Knebel gave up the go-ahead run in the ninth).

But for three games in June, there was a reminder of how good it could be in Philly.


More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Under new management: Can weekend sweep stop Phillies swoon?