Phillies star catcher J.T. Realmuto made a fan’s night after his game-winner.
Just as the Philadelphia Phillies seemed flat in their first 50-plus games of the season under then-manager Joe Girardi, catcher J.T. Realmuto did not seem to be himself earlier this season.
While it is easy to pinpoint what changed for the overall team — promoting Rob Thomson to interim manager — it is difficult to do the same for Realmuto. As late as June 29, his batting average was .235. A little more than 40 days later, the figure has significantly improved to .268. In Realmuto’s last 25 games, specifically, he is slashing .355/.404/1.114 with eight home runs and 26 RBI.
The “Best Catcher in Baseball” seems to be back and came through in a big way opposite Miami Marlins Cy Young candidate Sandy Alcantara on Wednesday.
After the team produced a game-tying, eighth-inning rally — with Brandon Marsh and Kyle Schwarber RBI singles — Rhys Hoskins lined into an unlucky double play that got the team’s runner representing the go-ahead run out on third base. In recent seasons, the Phillies probably would have faltered at that point and went into extra innings where anything could happen amid the “ghost runner” era.
But this year just seems different. Alec Bohm went on to single to right field, and thanks to Schwarber’s hustle, he got all the way to third base to set up an important about for Realmuto. The three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner wasted no time, as on the first pitch he saw, he hit a go-ahead, two-out RBI single to left.
The recently named Team USA star for the 2023 World Baseball Classic reacted with emotion — something fans have not seen much out of him. But it is all welcomed.
After the game, Realmuto kept the positive vibes going by doing something special for one of his biggest supporters.
Evan Holahan was among the diehard Phillies fans who stood outside of Citizens Bank Park during the “pandemic season.” Whether it was their airhorns or chants, the group made their presence known by being heard on broadcasts — and surely by the players themselves. The Phandemic Krew brought a sense of normalcy in an otherwise unprecedented time, while also representing all Phillies fans.
One of the Phandemic Krew regulars, Holahan represented the Phillies fan who wanted the team to re-sign the pending free-agent Realmuto. He crafted a large poster that read “Sign J.T.,” eventually signed by Phillies broadcasters and even owner John Middleton.
After Realmuto inked his five-year, record-setting contract for catchers that offseason, he promised Holahan on social media that he would be sure to sign the poster.
That finally came to fruition after Wednesday’s game, and the video of the interaction could not be more amazing:
Excitement about the Phillies this late in the season is surely at a level not seen since the early 2010s. There are just more than 50 games to go, so fans are still remaining cautiously optimistic.
Realmuto and Holahan’s quick meet-and-greet is just one of the many amazing things about this baseball team as of late.
We’re just talkin’ about the Fightins!