As Kyle Schwarber goes, so goes the Phillies. Or at least it felt that way this past week. Schwarber was mired in a miserable 0-21 slump coming into Sunday’s ballgame, and the Phillies were struggling through a six-game losing skid of their own. Fortunately, both streaks were broken as the Phils salvaged the last game of their series against the Red Sox 6-1.
Taijuan Walker took the hill for the Phillies, looking to bounce back from a horrifying outing on Monday in which he surrendered eight earned runs in only 3.1 innings pitched against the Dodgers. He struggled mightily with command of his breaking pitches in that one, but looked completely different on Sunday.
The 30-year-old tossed 6.0 brilliant innings of one-run ball, with the only blemish being a solo homer off the bat of hotshot prospect Triston Casas. Walker carved up a surging Red Sox team, yielding only three hits, while walking none and punching out six.
He gave way to the ever-dominant José Alvarado in the seventh, who held the Sox scoreless. Matt Strahm, who was recently moved to the bullpen to accommodate the returning Ranger Suárez, pitched two scoreless frames of his own to wrap up the much-needed Phillies victory, as well as secure his first save of the season.
As important as Walker’s bounceback was, the biggest story of the game was Kyle Schwarber. The hulking m slugger has struggled mightily over the past week, with Manager Rob Thomson tinkering with his spot in the lineup in an effort to jumpstart Schwarber’s bat. Nothing seemed to work as the two-time All-Star failed to record a hit in 21 straight at bats. However, that skid ended on Sunday as Schwarber regained his old form.
The Phils mounted a nice rally in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases with no one out, and scoring one on a fielder’s choice from Nick Castellanos. Schwarber strode to the plate with two on and one out, and immediately grounded a single through the right side to double the Phillies’ lead.
Two innings later he came up with Bryce Harper on second facing funky lefty Richard Bleier. Schwarber crushed a belt-high sinker into the second deck in right field, giving the Phils a comfortable 4-1 lead. J.T. Realmuto tacked on two more with an eighth inning single, as the Phils went on to secure an easy 6-1 victory.
After a week of truly awful play, the Phillies really needed this solid, all-around team effort to end the skid. The pitching was excellent, the offense showed up, and two of the team’s weakest links of late had excellent performances. The Phils now sit at 16-19 heading into Monday’s off day, 8.0 games back in the National League East, but only 2.0 games off the pace in the Wildcard race. They’re set to face the Blue Jays at home for two starting on Tuesday before heading out to Colorado later this week.