PHILADELPHIA — The last two installments of the Phillies’ historic home run hitting August were storybook in the moment, even if the leads they built Wednesday were eventually erased in a 10-8 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
In the final highlight tape for the season, you’ll see Trea Turner’s sixth-inning blast, a three-run shot that turned a 5-3 deficit into a 6-5 lead. You’ll see Bryce Harper’s 300th career home run and its riotous curtain call, which gave the Phillies an 8-7 lead in the bottom of the eighth.
Even if some tough luck and an off day by Craig Kimbrel conspired to diminish the full impact of those homers, they earn places among an unprecedented month’s indelible moments.
The round-trippers were Nos. 58 and 59 of August for the Phillies. Only two ballclubs have hit more in a calendar month in baseball history: the New York Yankees’ 74 in August 2019 and this year’s Atlanta Braves in June at 61. The Phillies tied the mark set by the Tampa Bay Rays in April and the August 2019 Minnesota Twins. The franchise record of 46 was dashed long ago.
“We’re that team, being able to play each day, day in and day out,” Harper said. “I think everybody was kind of waiting for those moments, but that’s the team we are. Our team is so built on offense — and we’ve got great pitching as well; that’s nothing against our pitching — but if we hit and we play the right way on the field, we’re going to win a lot of games.
“I think you saw that in August. We’ve just got to keep that going.”
The power surge has rewritten the record books. The two homers and a Turner double give the Phillies 122 extra-base hits this month, the most in team history. The Phillies lead baseball with a .547 slugging percentage (the best in franchise history, routing the .526 from July 2007) and a .905 OPS (which trails only the .911 from July 2007).
Turner’s three-run blast was the 10th three-run homer, after the Phils had just five in the season’s first four months. They had 35 home runs with runners on base in August after 42 from April through July.
“Anytime you hear your name or your team associated with the record books, I think it’s pretty cool,” Turner said. “But I don’t think we think too much about it. We know we’re swinging the bats well. We know we’re winning and that’s what we want to continue to do.”
Turner’s was his fourth go-ahead homer in the sixth inning or later this season. Harper’s was his 12th career go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later.
Turner is on a three-game homer streak, a five-game RBI streak, an 11-game hitting streak and a 19-game home hitting streak. Since Aug. 4, he’s hitting .364 (33-for-96) with nine homers, 19 extra-base hits and 26 RBIs.
The most poignant takeaway from the month might be that the lineup is working the way it is designed to. With high on-base guys throughout, the Phillies are creating big innings and putting up crooked numbers via the long ball. For a team whose offense sputtered in the World Series last year, it’s a welcome sight.
“When we get going, we can string it together all the way through the lineup,” Alec Bohm said Tuesday. “It’s one at-bat at a time, and anywhere we’re at in the lineup, we feel like we can get something going and put a big inning together.”
The challenge is to carry August’s momentum into September. That barrier between months is permeable and arbitrary. Nothing tangibly resets on Friday, except for the chase of a playoff spot and a chance to start the postseason at home.
“We’ve had a great month, and we have a whole month left,” Harper said. “We’ve just got to keep going, understand we’re a really good team, we’re going to run into some really good teams in the next week and just keep playing our game.”
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Cristian Pache went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI for Lehigh Valley on Tuesday in what appears to be the penultimate game of a rehab odyssey. He’ll play Wednesday and join the Phillies for their next road trip, likely as the added position player on Sept. 1.
Pache has had quite the last six weeks. He returned from the All-Star Break with a screw from a previous surgery protruding through his skin. He was placed on the injured list July 14 and underwent a procedure to remove the offending hardware. His rehab assignment began Aug. 8 but was paused due to hip pain that turned into knee inflammation.
While he’s been gone, Johan Rojas has made himself indispensable. Regardless of his .289 average and 18 RBIs in just 37 big league games, Rojas’ defense has been irreplaceable. Manager Rob Thomson easily envisions both coexisting on the roster.
“(Rojas) plays center field and goes 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, he probably impacts the game in a positive way just in the way he plays,” Thomson said.
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NOTES >> Mickey Moniak was the latest former Phillie to receive his 2022 National League championship ring. In a fitting homage to his time in Philadelphia, the former No. 1 overall draft pick left Tuesday night’s game with back soreness and didn’t play. … First-year 76ers coach Nick Nurse threw out the first pitch, complete with his best Kimbrel impersonation. The delivery wasn’t bad, either. … The Phillies have Thursday off before a six-game road swing. First up is Milwaukee, which entered the day with the same 74-58 record as the Phillies and a four-game lead on the Chicago Cubs atop the NL Central. Zach Wheeler takes the ball in Friday’s 8:10 p.m. start, opposed by Freddy Peralta. Ranger Suarez is officially listed as Sunday’s starter, which will mark his return from a hamstring strain.
Source: Berkshire mont