The Phillies longest homestand of the season ended Sunday afternoon. The memories will last a lot longer.
There was slumping shortstop Trea Turner, hitting just .235, getting a standing ovation and seemingly turning his season around with a 10-game hitting streak during which he batted .436. There was career minor leaguer Weston Wilson homering in his first big league at bat. There was Nick Castellanos’ 200th career homer. There was Michael Lorenzen’s no-hitter in his Phillies home debut. There were six wins in seven games that vaulted them into first place in the wild card standings.
But there were also disappointing losses in the final two games, including Sunday's 3-0 setback to the Twins, when the offense was marked absent and concerns about righthander Taijuan Walker’s decreased velocity.
Overall, though, manager Rob Thomson pronounced himself satisfied with the 6-4 record since the last time the Phillies batted first in an inning. They’re off Monday and then open a two-game series in Toronto on Tuesday night.
“No doubt. We’re still playing good baseball,” he said. “These guys need this day off. They’ve been grinding. We’ll see how it plays out after that. Our offense has come around. That’s really good to see. I really like where we’re at.”
The matchups: RHP Zack Wheeler (9-5, 3.74) vs. Blue Jays LHP Yusei Kikuchi Tuesday and RHP Aaron Nola (9-8, 4.49) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (9-6, 3.04) Wednesday. Both games are scheduled to start at 7:07 p.m.
After another open date Thursday the Phillies will play the Nationals in Washington on Friday and Saturday and in Williamsport for the annual Little League game Sunday before returning home to play nine straight at Citizens Bank Park against the Giants, Cardinals and Angels.
CONNECTING GENERATIONS: The 1983 and 1993 pennant-winning Phillies teams were recognized before Sunday’s game as part of Alumni Weekend. And, since baseball is a far smaller, more interconnected world than most people realize, it’s not surprising that two members of the ’93 teams share a bond with members of the current club.
Kyle Schwarber spent part of his first pro season in 2014 with the Class A Daytona Cubs, where Mariano Duncan was the hitting coach. Thirty years ago, Duncan platooned at second base with Mickey Morandini.
“I saw him really squatting at the plate and he was striking out a lot,” Duncan recalled Sunday. I looked at him and I said, ‘Don’t you think if you stood up a little bit, you could be a better hitter? Hit for more power?’ He said he’d never done that before.
“We went out and played a doubleheader at Lakeland and he hit four home runs, two in each game. The following year he went to Double-A and Triple-A and all the way to the Major Leagues. So we have a special relationship.
In 2017, Schwarber was briefly demoted to Triple-A Iowa. . .where Duncan was now the hitting coach. “They sent a hitting coordinator to work with him. He said, ‘I don’t need a coordinator. Mariano is here.’ And we worked and he got back to the Major Leagues. And since then, everything is history,” Duncan said.
Wilson homered in his first big league at bat last Wednesday night. All the way out in California, Ricky Jordan said to himself, “I’ve got to meet this kid.”
That opportunity came Sunday when Jordan, the Phillies back-up first baseman in ’93, got his picture taken with Wilson. The reason? Jordan also homered in his first big league at bat for the Phils in 1988.
“I asked him how it felt going around the bases,” Jordan said. “He said he barely remembered it. I said, ‘Me, too!’ After the gamne, Mike Schmidt gave me a ride back to the Days Inn where I was staying. And I’m walking to my room, going through the bar and I look up and there’s me on TV.’ I thought I was still dreaming. It’s amazing, something you think about your whole life as a little kid.”