Too early to call it a breakout, Phillies' Johan Rojas had his breakthrough last night

The Phillies center fielder went 3-for-4, with the hardest hit of his career, to break out of his early-season slump.
Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Johan Rojas had his breakthrough game against the Cardinals on Monday.
Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Johan Rojas had his breakthrough game against the Cardinals on Monday. / Jeff Le/GettyImages

It took a total solar eclipse. Or perhaps it was just the venue.

Or maybe Johan Rojas finally saw the fruits of his offseason labor pay off on Monday night with his, ahem, breakthrough? It's too early to call it a breakout. But whatever the reason for his big night, a breakthrough it certainly was.

The much-beleaguered Rojas arrived in St. Louis on a 1-for-22 run to start his season. But on Monday against the Cardinals, the Philadelphia Phillies center fielder came through for his team, which was especially helpful given the offense's struggles over the first week and a half of the season.

His night began as you'd expect. The 23-year-old made a sensational diving catch in center field in the bottom of the first. The way his season has gone, that could have been the highlight of his night. Except on Monday, in the friendly confines of Busch Stadium, the youngster started hitting.

Last year, it was his favorite place to hit. In three games as a visitor against the Cardinals, he went 5-for-9 with a pair of doubles and a 1.333 OPS — by far his best results from any of the MLB ballparks he played in.

In his first at-bat, in the third, he ripped a 108.1 mph double down the left field line, the hardest-hit ball for a base hit in his career, per's Todd Zolecki. Nothing came of it on the scoreboard for the Phillies, but it was nice to see.

Two innings later, with runners on the corners, Rojas delivered a cue shot off the end of the bat to right field to bring in the Phillies' first run.

After flying out in the seventh, he added a third hit in the ninth with a single. Just like that, his season batting average jumped from .045 to .154.

He likes hitting in St. Louis, it would seem. He's now hitting .615 with a 1.462 OPS at Busch.

“I think that I was a little shy at the plate before, right now what I can do is be myself,” Rojas said after the game, per Zolecki.

It was a game Rojas desperately needed, and it helped the Phillies win a game they desperately needed to win. The 5-3 victory in 10 innings brought them back to .500 at 5-5.

As important as the game was to the team, manager Rob Thomson was thinking about Rojas after the game, per NBC Sports Philadelphia's Corey Seidman.

"Any time you have a night like that after his start, I think he kind of exhaled a little bit," Thomson said per Seidman. "I feel happy for him."

We all feel happy for him. Now we wait and see if it carries over for the rest of the Phillies' series against the Cardinals. They'll be in tough on Tuesday night, with Sonny Gray set to make his season debut coming off the IL.