Schwarber powers Phillies in postseason with mythical homers

Oct 25, 2022, 11:40 PM | Updated: Oct 26, 2022, 5:38 pm

Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Schwarber hits home run during the first inning in Game 3 of the baseba...

Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Schwarber hits home run during the first inning in Game 3 of the baseball NL Championship Series between the San Diego Padres and the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Kyle Schwarber crushed a 98 mph slider beyond the center field fence and the ball disappeared into a thicket of English ivy, Arborvitae, Holly, and other evergreen flourishing as the greenery backdrop at Citizens Bank Park.

Most of Schwarber’s homers land — and yes, they do land even as some he hits might best be viewed through the Hubble once they reach orbit — in easy to track spots.

This particular ball, hit against San Diego during Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, almost needed a search party to locate. The area was swept, not by the grounds crew as might be the assumption, but by the team in charge of collecting game-used memorabilia. Schwarber doesn’t make it easy; he hit two into the bushes in one game this year and it couldn’t be verified which ball was which.

The NLCS ball was, indeed, found (though the authenticator was careful not to disturb one worn ball resting in a bird’s nest).

“Trees and shrubs, you’ve got to really look through,” said John Hollinger, who runs the authentication program. “Balls do get wedged in different spots.”

Schwarber will say there is no spinach that fuels his muscle — even as his mammoth shots through the years have sunk into ivy or even smashed car windshields as he did in college — and that he’s just a slugger who happens to have a little extra oomph in his swing.

Let everyone else stand in awe of Schwarber’s prodigious blasts, that include the NL-best 46 he hit this season and three more in the NLCS. The Philadelphia Phillies slugger only counts the runs that each homer scores, not the distant distance.

“Everyone likes to talk about the far homers,” Schwarber said Wednesday. “I really don’t care how far they go for me. It’s more about getting a run on the board.”

Schwarber has bashed and mashed baseballs his entire career and his power surge in the first season of his $79 million, four-year contract with the Phillies has fueled their run to the World Series. Schwarber took his hacks during Wednesday’s workout at the ballpark before the team left for Houston. The Phillies will start right-hander Aaron Nola in Game 1 and right-handed ace Zack Wheeler in Game 2.

Schwarber has done the bulk of his damage from the leadoff spot, as the game moves far away from the days of speedy table-setters such as Vince Coleman or Rickey Henderson at the top of the lineup. Schwarber struck out 200 times and hit only .218 but had a knack for hitting some of the memorable homers of Philadelphia’s surprising run at the pennant.

Schwarber slammed a homer off the second-deck facade on opening day in his first at-bat with the Phillies. He led off Game 3 of the NLCS with a homer off Padres ace Joe Musgrove. And the capper, so far, of all the Schwarbombs — as they’re affectionately known in Philly — the 488-foot blast in Game 1 against the Padres that had an exit velocity of 120 mph.

That homer — the second longest overall in the postseason since Statcast started tracking distance in 2015 — launched 1,001 memes thanks to teammate Bryce Harper’s bug-eyed, mouth-agape reaction in the dugout.

“I thought it got pretty small pretty fast,” Harper said after the game.

The 29-year-old Schwarber simply remembered the homer came in a postseason win. It’s a run no matter that Schwarber turns into some sort of Paul Bunyan mythical figure that can scare the leather off the ball with each colossal moon shot.

“Who cares about distance?” he asked. “I think it’s more about trying to impact a game in any way that you can, especially in important times, too.”

Schwarber made big October games a habit since he broke into the big leagues with the Chicago Cubs in 2015 and hit five homers in the postseason. The next year, Schwarber tore two ligaments in his left knee after a frightening collision with outfielder Dexter Fowler while chasing down a flyball. It was only the third game of the season and Schwarber about figured his year was over.

But 201 days later, and following months of relentless rehab, Schwarber returned to help the Cubs break the curse and win the 2016 World Series. He hit .412 with seven hits, one double and two RBIs in five World Series games.

He had a brief 72-game stint last season with Washington before he was traded to Boston. Naturally, Schwarber had a grand slam for the Red Sox in the AL Championship Series.

It’s certainly not his first postseason rodeo — Schwarber’s popularity soared like one of his homers after he rode a mechanical bull at the Phillies’ NLCS party at a bar across the street from the ballpark.

“He’s done it in a lot of different places, and when that usually happens, that tends to not be an accident,” Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “Some guys just have that knack. They know what it takes to win. They know how to bring guys together, which I think has probably been some of the most important stuff he’s done in a Phillies uniform.”

Phillies manager Rob Thomson lauded Schwarber’s clubhouse contributions on Wednesday and noted how the slugger has seemed to enjoy holding court in front of his locker with younger teammates.

“He’s very outgoing and very honest with people,” Thomson said. “He jokes around about himself a lot which makes people feel comfortable to approach him. He helps the veterans, he helps the kids. And he goes through slumps, too, or periods of time when he’s not swinging the bat particularly well. Even though he’s trying to fix his own stuff, he’s still trying to help other people. That’s a great sign of a great teammate.”


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

Schwarber powers Phillies in postseason with mythical homers