Phil Gosselin and J.T. Realmuto both connected with home runs to give the Phillies a significant lead in Zack Wheeler’s team debut
Infielder Phil Gosselin may have been the 30th and final player on the 2020 Philadelphia Phillies Opening Day roster. However, his contributions in Saturday’s game against the Miami Marlins — right-hander Zack Wheeler‘s debut in red pinstripes — would suggest he deserves to have been ranked much higher. Catcher J.T. Realmuto also played a huge part in giving the team some much-needed insurance runs.
With the game notched at one and with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Phillies offense to that point had mustered only two hits, one being a solo home run by Didi Gregorius, his second already of the 60-game sprint.
Then came Scott Kingery to the plate to work a seven-pitch walk, allowing Gosselin to come up and crush a two-run blast to left field on his first pitch seen of the regular season. The home run, as a result, gave Wheeler and the Phillies some breathing room with a 3-1 advantage.
Just one inning later, Realmuto likewise connected with his first hit of the season — a three-run, 431-foot blast to deep center field to put the Phillies on top, 6-1. His blast was made possible thanks to a one-out walk by Rhys Hoskins, followed by Bryce Harper reaching on a bunt single to third — also his first hit of the season.
Gosselin came through yet again in the bottom of the eighth, launching a solo home run to right to give the Phillies a convincing 7-1 lead; in the process, it secured his first career multi-home run game. Gosselin was the starting designated hitter in the eight-hole instead of Jay Bruce, given the Marlins tabbed a left-handed starting pitcher. Realmuto was slotted for the second straight game in the cleanup position.
Gosselin impressed significantly in summer camp, which landed him the big-league roster spot over fellow non-roster invitee infielders Josh Harrison and Logan Forsythe. He connected often with extra-base hits, giving him the nickname “Barrels” as a result. His two home runs on Saturday only warrant the nickname even more.
The Malvern Prep alumnus’ first of two home runs on Saturday, a two-run blast, was his first since 2018 with the Cincinnati Reds, and just his second since 2016 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Overall, the seven-year veteran now has nine career home runs (two in 2020) and 45 RBI since his 2013 debut with the Atlanta Braves.
Last season, the West Chester native’s first in red pinstripes, Gosselin slashed .262/.294/.308 with 14 singles, three doubles, seven RBI, three walks, and 16 strikeouts spanning 44 games and 68 plate appearances. He manned time as a fielder in left field, shortstop, and third base, committing only one error.
According to MLB’s Sarah Langs, Realmuto’s home run was his sixth-longest blast tracked by Statcast, as well as his third-longest home run as a Phillie.
It is good to see Gosselin start to develop a role on the Phillies’ roster under new manager Joe Girardi. He came through in a big way on Saturday to break a 1-1 tie and help wake up the team’s bats that, to that point, had been largely silent thus far in the series opposite their National League East rival.
Of course, a hot bat from Realmuto, the “Best Catcher in Baseball,” can significantly help the team gain some ground early on in the 60-game sprint as well.
The Phillies went on to win, 7-1, behind their four home runs (Gregorius, Gosselin 2, Realmuto); it was Girardi’s first win with the team, and his first managing in the National League since Oct. 1, 2006 — a Marlins walk-off win against the Phillies in the season finale. In addition, it was Girardi’s first win at Citizens Bank Park since Game 4 of the 2009 World Series with the Yankees.
Wheeler earned the win, tossing seven innings and allowing just one run; right-handed relievers Tommy Hunter and Deolis Guerra pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings.