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Phillies feast on faulty Nationals, improve to 12-2 in June

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Phillies feast on failed Nationals, improving to 12-2 in June originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

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WASHINGTON. It wasn’t so much about Thomson’s magic as it was about the Nationals’ incompetence, but the Phillies would take it.

Sixty-three games into the season, the Fils finally took on their National League East opponents from the nation’s capital on Thursday night. It was the first of 19 meetings between the two teams over the remainder of the season, and the Phillies, having endured a 10-year postseason drought, would certainly like to see the next 18 meetings go as well as this one.

The Phillies hit seven unearned runs in the third inning en route to a 10–1 win, their 11th total in 13 games under new manager Rob Thomson.

“We took advantage of a couple of mistakes, but again we swung well,” said Thomson. “Everyone in the line-up had a hit. We managed the bases well.

“It’s nice to win the first one. Sets the tone for the series.

At 33–31, the Fils are two games over .500 for the first time since the season lasted four days. There are 12-2 of them in the month of June. (They opened the month with a win under Joe Girardi.)

Three seasons after winning the World Series, the Nationals have the worst record in the National League and have two fielders who were kicked out by the Phillies, Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez.

Hernandez, the Nats’ second baseman, made a two-out mistake in the third inning that opened the floodgates for the Phillies to score seven times against left-hander Patrick Corbin in the inning.

After that, everything was academic, especially with Zach Wheeler on the hill. The right-hander has only allowed a run in seven innings as the Phillies have won for the seventh time in his last nine starts.

“They definitely gave me a good cushion,” Wheeler said of his comrades’ third inning of seven runs, which included six hits, three extra bases and a walk.

“This is what we expected at the beginning of the season. We’re kicking ass right now. I hope we continue.”

The Phillies have been a different team ever since June rolled around and Kyle Schwarber woke up at the stove. He set the offensive tone for a team that hadn’t taken the lead all month and continues to do so this time around. He clubbed a two-run homer after Hernandez’s error in the third and added a solo in the fourth.

“That’s what good teams do, jump on mistakes,” Schwarber said.

June may be the month of brides, but it’s also the month of Schwarber. This month, he has seven home runs and 14 RBIs in 14 games. In June 2021, he hit 16 homers in 27 games with the national team.

“He’s a June guy,” Wheeler said. “He is a good ball player. He’s fun to watch. I was very excited when we signed him because it was hard to play against him.”

In March, Schwarber signed a four-year, $79 million contract with the Phillies. A few days later, Nick Castellanos signed a five-year, $100 million deal.

Castellanos splattered recently, but he swung the bat well Thursday night with an RBI single and an RBI double. Phils would love to see his bat warm up like Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins did this month.

The starting pitch match turned out to be interesting. The Phillies proposed to Corbin when he was a free agent after the 2018 season. He ended up signing a six-year, $140 million contract with Washington and became part of the World Series winner in his first season at the club.

A year after losing Corbin, the Phillies signed Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million contract that they are quite happy with. If the Phillies had signed Corbin after the 2018 season, they might not have pursued Wheeler a year later.

Wheeler had just four hits, one of which was Josh Bell’s solo homer. He walked none and struck out only three. He didn’t have his best fastball of the season, but maybe he didn’t need it.

In his last nine starts, Wheeler has given up just nine earned runs in 57 2/3 innings for a 1.40 ERA. Since joining the Phillies in 2020, he has a 2.79 ERA in 55 starts.

The Phillies have won nine in a row against Washington since last season. They need to keep making hay against the citizens. On Friday, both teams will play a doubleheader.


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