SAN DIEGO – No one had ever seen anything like it.
Kyle Schwarber launched a monster home run at Petco Park never seen before.
It was a moment that could be talked about forever in Philadelphia folklore, the Phillies slugger hitting a baseball into the second row of the second deck in Philadelphia’s 2-0 victory in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series over the San Diego Padres.
It was measured at 488 feet, the longest ball ever hit at the ballpark.
It travelled 119.7-mph off his bat, the hardest ball hit by anybody not named Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton since homers were measured starting in 2008.
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It was so ridiculous that Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto even stopped to ask several Padre players, including catcher Austin Nola, if he’s ever seen a ball hit that far at Petco Park.
The answer was NO.
“I was shocked how loud it was,’’ Realmuto said, “and to see how far it flew. That’s the hardest ball I’ve ever seen hit in person.’’
The Phillies could have talked about Zack Wheeler’s brilliant seven-inning, one-hit performance, Bryce Harper’s fourth homer of the postseason, or Phillies closer Jose Alvarado escaping a queasy moment in the ninth.
The talk all focused on Schwarber.
“Wow, it looked like someone on a driving range taking a driver,’’ Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “Seriously. The ball got so small so fast. One of those that you really don’t need to look at, kind of just hear it, but man, I’ve been coming here five years, and I’ve never seen anyone hit the second deck.’’
Schwarber’s homer counted for just one run, giving the Phillies a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning, but it was so dramatic, so resounding, that it felt like the moment was too huge for the Padres to overcome.
“Even though it’s only a solo shot, but to score a run that way, so emphatically,’’ Hoskins said, “it felt like more than one run. Huge swing. You could feel the momentum continue to come to our side.’’
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Four innings later, the game was over, with the Phillies winning for the sixth time in seven games this postseason, and stealing home-field advantage in this best-of-seven series.
No one is saying the series is over, or that the Phillies should start selling World Series tickets, but it left the Phillies believing the blast could carry them though October and into the first week of November.
It brought back memories of Schwarber’s home run in the 2015 NL Division Series that landed atop the Wrigley Field scoreboard, carrying the Chicago Cubs to the NLCS and the World Series a year later.
It was a home run that left Harper’s mouth agape, the Phillies players screaming, and an owner in utter disbelief.
Phillies owner John Middleton, a fan his entire life, has seen some of the greatest players come through town, but never did he see a shot like this.
“I yelled, “Holy [expletive]!,’’ Middleton said. “Or maybe, it was more like, “Oh [expletive]! I’ve seen a lot of big homer runs. [Ryan] Howard. [Mike] Schmidt. Dick Allen. I saw Dick Allen put a ball out over the Coke sign at Connie Mack Stadium right-center field, which is on top of the roof. That ball, that was like the best of Dick Allen. It was unbelievable.
The reaction to Schwarber’s homer bordered on incredulity to hysterical, with players being asked their reaction to what they saw, what they heard, and whether they could even relate.
“I yelled, “Holy [expletive]!,’’ Phillies outfielder Nick Castellanos said, “and gave him our handshake.’’
Phillies center fielder Brandon Marsh, who played alongside a couple of MVPs named Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani for 2½ years with the Los Angeles Angels, was asked if he ever saw anything like it.
“Trout and Shohei can do a lot of things, but that was one of the most impressive swings I’ve seen with my own eyes,’’ Marsh said. “It was kind of jaw-dropping.’’
Harper, who was left speechless at the moment, finally was able to put into words what it meant after the game, but still was unable to fully dissect it:
“I thought it got pretty small, pretty fast,’’ Harper said. “I’ve never seen a ball go up in that section of Petco Park. Just very impressive. Just wow.’’
The Phillies player who perhaps showed the least emotion was Schwarber himself, who put his head down, trotted around the bases, and acted as if it barely cleared the fence.
“I would have taken it if it went in the first row,’’ Schwarber said. “Just to be able to put up a run there and extend the lead, it was nice.’’
The magnitude of the home run didn’t really hit Schwarber until he reached the dugout.
“A lot of people,’’ he said, “just looked at me weird. But yeah, it was cool. Cool moment.’’
Wheeler, who was nothing short of sensational, was much more impressed with Schwarber’s one swing than his 83 pitches.
He was down the dugout stairwell, focusing on the next inning when Schwarber came to the plate. Then, he heard the crack of the bat, and a sound that reverberated throughout the ballpark.
“I heard everybody sort of take off, so I ran up the stairs and I saw it land,’’ Wheeler said. “That was pretty crazy. I’ve never even seen that done in batting practice or anything.’’
“We’re excited to go back to Philly, but we got a chance to really make some noise here [Wednesday],’’ Hoskins said. “We’ve got a lot of guys here that believe.’’
And a whole lot of witnesses who sense that one swing of the bat could have changed this whole series.
“We have a lot of baseball still to be played,’’ Castellanos said, “but after what we saw, I’d be lying if I didn’t think about what it could mean.’’
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