Last month, Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa criticized his own slugger — Yermín Mercedes — for violating an unwritten rule of baseball by homering on a 3-0 count while ahead 15-4. If the Hall of Fame skipper was at the Philadelphia Phillies-Cincinnati Reds game Tuesday evening at Great American Ball Park, he surely would have an issue with what Phillies left fielder Matt Joyce did in the top of the ninth inning.
Phillies outfielder Matt Joyce surely ignored any unwritten rules with this swing.
With the bases loaded and ahead 13-3 — facing Reds infielder-turned-pitcher Alex Blandino — the 14-year veteran swung on a 1-1 count, connected with an 88 miles per hour fastball, and sent the ball 389 feet over the right field wall for a grand slam. It was just the sixth grand slam of the 36-year-old’s career and his first since June 4, 2017, opposite the Washington Nationals. The slam also lifted Joyce over the 500 career RBI mark, making him one of 60 active players to accomplish the feat.
The “controversial” swing meant the Phillies scored 17 runs in a game for the first time since July 6, 2018, away against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was just their second game of the season scoring double digits in runs, joining May 7 when they scored a dozen runs against the Atlanta Braves.
Other Phillies players who homered in the 17-3 rout included Andrew McCutchen (2); Ronald Torreyes (1, first homer since 2017 under then-New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi); Odubel Herrera (2); and Rhys Hoskins. Their seven overall home runs matched a single-game franchise record, previously matched on July 26, 2018 (at Reds) and set on September 8, 1998 (vs. Mets).
After one night, the Phillies turned a woeful -33 run differential into a slightly better -19 mark.
The night also featured Aaron Nola becoming the fastest pitcher in franchise history to record 1,000 strikeouts, along with Hoskins extending his hitting streak to 10 games while recording his 100th career double.
All around, the Phillies had a night to remember. They will look to continue this momentum heading into Wednesday’s series finale matinee between right-handers Spencer Howard and Vladimir Gutierrez.