JT Realmuto hit a 90 MPH 2-2 fastball low and away out to right for a 397-foot opposite field homer off Nationals’ starter Trevor Williams on Sunday afternoon, giving his Phillies an early 1-0 lead in the finale of Philadelphia’s three-game set in Washington, D.C., which the visiting team went on to win, 11-3.
It was 1-1 in the fifth, when Williams threw an 89 MPH 2-2 fastball up in the zone inside to the Phillies’ rookie third baseman, Drew Ellis, who hit his first home run of the season, (and 1st of 2 on the day), 398 ft. to left field, with a 105.7 MPH exit velo which might have MLB thinking about putting nets in front of the outfield seats too.
The home runs Williams allowed were two of five the home team surrendered in the loss.
“I think they have a very good lineup with guys that are built to hit home runs like they did today,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said. “Once they get going, that’s how they generate runs, right, they hit homers.”
And the pitches on which the Phillies’ hitters teed off? Andrés Machado gave up a three-run home run on a 1-2 fastball up and not quite in to Kyle Schwarber in the sixth, 5-1. Ellis hit his second of the day in the seventh, taking an 0-1 fastball from Machado to center, 8-1, then it was Schwarber again in the ninth, taking Thaddeus Ward deep to left-center on a 3-2 cutter up and away, 11-1.
“Our location — we’re throwing too many balls up, too many breaking balls in the zone up,” Martinez said. “We’ve got to start throwing balls down.
“Like I’ve said all along, when we throw the ball down, we’re really good. So we’ve got to start throwing balls down, our misses have got to be down.”
Williams went 5 2⁄3 innings, gave up six hits, four walks, and four runs total, striking out six in a 101-pitch, 62-strike start, exiting relatively early with the pitch count up.
“Pitch count. Pitch count. Pitch count. Right?” Martinez said. “You’re talking about a guy that threw out of the bullpen all last year [in Williams]. He’s done a lot for us. That’s five innings at 100-plus pitches.
“We kind of liked the matchup going into it with [Andrés Machado] with the fastballs being up and the changeup, but he didn’t throw the changeup. He stayed with the fastball.”
Williams told reporters, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato, he knows he needs to get the walks in check and keep the ball in the yard.
He’s given up 11 walks and six homers in the last four starts:
“I have to do a better job of limiting free passes recently, and home runs are another thing for sure that I need to carry over,” he said.
“If you’re going to look at the positive of giving up homers, solo homers don’t usually beat you. Unfortunately, the three-run blast beat us.”
Williams put two of the three runners who scored on before Machado gave up the three-run home run. The fact Martinez didn’t have a left-hander to send out against Schwarber?
“We try to match up the best we can,” he said. “And we’ve made it this far doing a good job of doing that. But like I said, we’ve got to make our pitches.
“When you got guys up there like that, you’ve got to throw strikes, you’ve got to get ahead and you’ve got to finish them off and make better pitches.”
BACK PAGE - Stephen Strasburg:
If you haven’t read it already, take a minute to go and read Washington Post writer Jesse Dougherty’s latest update on the status of Stephen Strasburg, the 2009 No. 1 draft pick, and 2019 World Series MVP, and the ongoing struggle to not only get back on a mound competitively, but to even rehab at all, from the Thoracic Outlet surgery he had back in the summer of 2022.
Stephen Strasburg is completely shut down from physical activity again and is dealing with "severe nerve damage," as three people familiar with his situation put it.— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) June 3, 2023
More on his grim outlook here: https://t.co/B0aZrqa1zZ
“Stephen Strasburg has not been able to perform any rehabilitation activities for more than a month,” the WaPost reporter noted, citing “three people familiar with his situation,” while adding there is, “increasing doubt that the Washington Nationals’ 34-year-old right-hander will pitch again.”
That reality, that Strasburg’s career might be over at this point, considering he’s made just eight starts and thrown 31 1⁄3 innings in the majors since he helped the club win it all in ‘19, then signed a 7-year/$245M free agent deal in the winter of 2019/20 has set in slowly over the last few years.
“Three people have described those complications as ‘severe nerve damage,’” Dougherty wrote.
“His plan,” right now, “... according to a person familiar with his thinking, is to rest and see whether he can manage the nerve issues enough to make another attempt at pitching.
“His outlook is not promising.”
The fact that the Nationals, reportedly, “do not have any disability insurance on Strasburg’s contract, according to four people familiar with the situation,” definitely caught everyone’s attention, but when manager Davey Martinez was asked for an update on the righty’s status on Sunday morning, he focused on the personal aspect, and said he just wants to see Stras healthy again, regardless of how things go in terms of his baseball career.
“Everything is still the same,” Martinez confirmed. “He’s shut down right now from baseball activity. I know he’s working hard. I can’t say exactly what the outcome is going to be, I really can’t, but I know that it’s been frustrating for him, and it’s been an ongoing deal, so for me, I just wish Stephen the best no matter what happens moving forward, I just want him to get healthy.”