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Phillies' home run bats come alive, move above .500 for first-time this season

The bats came alive at Citizens Bank Park as the Phillies connected on three home runs in their statement victory.

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Birds gotta fly. Fish gotta swim. And sluggers gonna slug. This is the gospel according to Rob Thomson.

In 2023 the Phillies finished fifth in all of baseball with a .438 slugging percentage. Coming into play last night that number was .342, ahead of only the Mets and Marlins in the National League. And what did the Phillies manager plan to do about this sorry state of affairs?

Absolutely nothing.

Well, practically nothing. . .

“Just keep running them out there. Because we’re going to slug. And if you don’t think we’re going to slug, you ain’t watching the games,” he said calmly before Alec Bohm, Brandon Marsh and Bryson Stott all went deep to pace the Phillies to a 5-1 win over the Pirates Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park.

“This team is built to slug. We’re waiting on it. And it’s coming.”

What had made this a bit of an issue was the fact that between Bohm’s game-winning double Monday night in St. Louis and his go-ahead homer in the bottom of the fourth Thursday, the Phillies had 19 hits, all of them singles.

“That’s news to me,” Bohm said. “That’s just kind of a testament to that there’s a bunch of different ways we can get it done.”

While Thomson’s equilibrium is always impressive, this blip on the radar had no chance to knock him off balance. For one thing, it’s still April. For another, power tends to be streaky. Most importantly, all big boppers from last season are back. Several have big money, long term contracts.

They’ll hit. And, if they don’t, well, there’s not much any manager can do to change that.

For Bohm and Stott, it was their first homer of the year.

“Getting that first one out of the way is always a good feeling,” Bohm said, adding that he thinks this will take some of the pressure off the entire lineup. “Much as I don’t want to make excuses for us, I don’t think we’ve had the best weather. The hands haven’t been warm, we haven’t been super comfortable in the box. But no excuse. Everybody’s got to play in it.

“But hitting is contagious. Confidence comes as a whole. Good at bats lead to more good at bats and guys kind of feed off each other, especially in this locker room. So the more we see success, the more success we’re going to have, I think.”

Stott and Marsh, whose home run to the notch in left-center was first ruled a double, a call that was overturned on appeal, both suggested that this is the sort of game that could produce a positive snowball effect.

“That’s the way baseball goes,” Stott said. “The beginning of the season is always amplified. If this happened in June to any of us, I don’t think it would be (considered) crazy. It’s part of baseball and we’ve just got to keep going.”

Said Marsh: “It was big for us to step up and get that lead for (starter Ranger Suarez). He was dealing. We needed to get him some runs. But we got dudes and dogs on dogs that show up and show out every night.

“We’re not really worried too, too much (about the lack of power). We’re just trying to win some ballgames. The slug will come. With the lineup we have, it’s just a matter of time.”

Suarez pitched six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out eight.

Marsh, who now leads the team with four homers, has been the team’s most consistent hitter through the first two weeks of the season.

Thomson didn’t take a victory lap after his pregame confidence was rewarded so quickly, but understands that the Phillies need more production like this to be where they want to be at the end of the season.

“That’s part of our game, and we really haven’t had it most of this year,” he said. “So, hopefully that continues. It’s going to come and go just like everything else. But it was good to see some guys hit it out of the ballpark. When guys hit the ball in the seats it’s like (and here he exhaled loudly) here we go.”

If past is prelude, the Phillies will hit a lot of homers and score a lot of runs this season. But don’t worry. Even that can be something to fret over.

The Phillies have scored 46 runs this season and 22 of them – 47.8 percent – have come on home runs. Are they too dependent on the long ball? Discuss.

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