Kyle Schwarber's Home Run Inspires Awe, Amazement In Phillies NLCS Game 1 Win
SAN DIEGO—Kyle Schwarber’s power has been prodigious since his days at Indiana. He led the Big 10 Conference in home runs both his sophomore and junior years and showed tremendous strength with the ability to punish pitches to all fields. The Cubs drafted him fourth overall in 2014 on the basis of that power, and he lived up to it with four 30-plus home run seasons in his first eight years in the majors. He led the National League with 46 home runs this year and hit more than a quarter of his home runs at least 425 feet.
Even in that context, Schwarber’s home run in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series exceeded any reasonable expectation for what he—or almost anyone else—could have accomplished. Schwarber’s home run off Yu Darvish to lead off the sixth inning traveled 488 feet into the second deck in right field at Petco Park and left his bat at 119.7 mph, according to Statcast. It was the hardest-hit postseason home run in the Statcast era (2015-present) and the longest recorded home run in Petco Park history. It was the first ball to reach the second deck in right field at Petco Park since the stadium opened in 2004.
The homer helped the Phillies to a 2-0 win in Game 1. Bryce Harper homered and Zack Wheeler allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings, but it was Schwarber’s blast that defined the game.
Here is how the home run unfolded, and the reactions it inspired from his teammates.
Schwarber entered the NLCS in a slump. He was 1-for-20 in the postseason with eight strikeouts entering the game, seemingly reversing a strong finish at the end of the year. But Schwarber showed he was seeing the ball well early against Darvish, working a full-count walk to lead off the game and smoking a single 111.3 mph into right field in his second at-bat.
Harper: Even when he's struggling with it, he's going bad or anything like that or he's up and down, you always know that he's one swing away. One swing away from hitting a double or one swing away from hitting a homer like that or putting us ahead or just having a really good at-bat. I think he's had some pretty good at-bats, just hasn't rolled his way.
Schwarber: I think the biggest thing was just feeling better overall, body-wise, things like that. Feeling better in the cage. You know, hell, I'll roll over seven times if we win. I don't really care.
When Schwarber stepped to the plate to lead off the sixth, the Phillies were nursing a 1-0 lead. Darvish had retired five straight batters since surrendering Harper’s home run. Wil Myers recorded the Padres first hit the inning before, giving them a modicum of hope against Wheeler.
Darvish left a cutter over the plate that Schwarber drilled for a single in his previous at-bat. Because of that, Schwarber wasn’t expecting Darvish to come back with a cutter to start him off again. But when Darvish threw a first-pitch cutter that ended up over the heart of the plate, Schwarber was ready for it.
Schwarber: I was on fastball and saw it spinning in the middle.
Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm: I was coming out of the tunnel down underneath and I heard it and saw the ball flying. I heard everyone yell.
Wheeler: I'm always down the stairs, kind of out of the noise and all that just so I can keep my head. But I heard everybody sort of take off, so I ran up the stairs and I saw it land, and that was pretty crazy. I've never even seen that done in batting practice or anything.
Phillies first baseman Darick Hall: I was on the rail near the camera on the side there. And I mean, as soon as he hit it, I was like, "Oh my gosh."
The ball jumped off Schwarber’s bat at 119.7 mph and rapidly began its ascent. It traveled 488 feet and reached the second deck in right field in under five seconds. As much as the distance, it was the speed with which the ball left the park that left his teammates in awe.
Phillies shortstop Bryson Stott: I was on the railing and yeah, woah. That ball, I’ve never seen a ball hit that far in my life with my own eyes. It got, like, to a golf ball size in, like, two seconds.
Phillies lefthander Bailey Falter: I was in the bullpen. That's honestly probably the hardest hit ball and the farthest hit ball I've ever seen in person. My jaw was, I was in awe. I was speechless. Didn't know what to say.
Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins: It looked like somebody on a driving range. Seriously. The ball got so small, so fast. One of those that you don't really need to look at. Kind of just hear it. But man, (I’ve) been coming here five years I don't think I've ever seen anybody sniff the second deck, and he got into it.
Harper: I thought it got pretty small pretty fast, right? I've never seen a ball go up in that section of Petco Park.
Bohm: I (have) never seen a ball go up there. I don't know if it’s been done or not, but it's a pretty good shot.
Hall: I told him after the game, it was like he hit it with an old BESR high school bat, you know? That's what it looked like off the bat.
As Schwarber rounded the bases, his teammates began to process what they just saw. Harper’s mouth gaped open. Infielder Edmundo Sosa put his hands on his head in disbelief. Second baseman Jean Segura led a group that thrust their right arms up in the air and began spinning them around. Outfield reserves Matt Vierling and Dalton Guthrie immediately thought back to a conversation they’d had before the game.
Guthrie: We were talking about it in BP. We didn't think anyone could even reach that in BP. And then he did it in an actual game.
Vierling: It kind of was just pretty. Got us all absolutely kind of in awe.
Falter: We usually, like, are really quick to high five each other and everything like that, but I don't know if you've seen Bryce's face, that's how pretty much all of us looked in the bullpen. We didn't know what to do. It was crazy.
Stott: I mean, we all didn't react like Bryce, I don't think. Bryce was like, he was really in awe from the second he hit it. We were like cheering and then we're like just seeing where it landed. We were like, you don't hit a ball there. Nobody hits a ball there.
Hoskins: Just a big spot too, right? Like, we had just come up with a couple big outs. And even though it's only a solo shot, to score a run in that way so emphatically, a little bit later in the game, I'm guessing feels more than like, more than one run.”
Stott: I mean, he's hit some long homers before but that one was, that was like two homers. That should have counted for two points, I think. I just saw it and I was, I don't even know if I could have cheered. It was just like, I was in shock.
Bohm: I didn't really believe it. I was kind of shocked. But yeah, he got it, that's for sure.
Hall: It's amazing. When a righty throws a ball that's coming in and you turn (and) drop the head on it. Like that's a really good feeling but I mean his ball, he did it perfect and spun that thing perfect. Like, you can't hit a ball better than that.
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When Schwarber got back to the bench, he was quickly congratulated by teammates. As soon as they were done celebrating, they had the same instinct as everyone else: they wanted to know how far the ball went.
Phillies outfielder Nicholas Castellanos: I think I said “Holy s**t” and we did our handshake.
Stott: We did a normal like home run celebration and then I think everyone checked the iPad to see the numbers on that one.
Hall: We were just jacked that he hit a homer, right? And then obviously after, you know, we celebrated, then we started talking about it. We got the iPad, looked at the exit velo, the distance. You know, all that stuff.
Stott: 488, 119 mph off the bat, that was nuts. I’ve never seen a ball hit like that.
Phillies outfielder Brandon Marsh: It was just cool going back to the iPad and looking at the numbers. I mean, jaw dropping. It was impressive.
Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto: I've never hit a ball that hard. I don't know that feeling. For me, like when I hit it that flush it obviously it feels great, but I don't think, I've never hit a ball that hard.
Hall: Literally, you can't hit a ball better. Right? I think that might be, what, the second highest exit velo by a lefthander in the Statcast era? I think Ohtani has 9a double at like 120, but (Schwarber’s) was way more impressive. To hit a ball at 25 degrees, which usually the higher you hit the ball the slower it is, to hit a ball 119 mph at 25 degrees is, like, incredible. Like, if he'd hit that ball three degrees lower, it'd have been 123, 124 mph.
Schwarber: A lot of people just looked at me weird. But yeah, it was cool. Cool moment. Happy that we got the win overall.
In the Statcast era, only Yankees teammates Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have hit home runs harder than Schwarber’s. Stanton and Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani were the only players to hit home runs harder than 118 mph this season.
Phillies relievers Nick Nelson and David Robertson played with Stanton and Judge on the Yankees, while Marsh played with Ohtani and Mike Trout on the Angels. Those experiences did not alter their perspectives on Schwarber’s blast.
Marsh: Yeah, I mean, Trouty and Shohei can do a do a bunch of things. Maybe even that, but that was that was one of the most impressive swings I've seen with my own eyes.
Robertson: I mean, I've seen a lot of a lot of them, but it's been it's been a while since I've seen somebody stick one that good.
Nelson: I was in the dugout, middle-ish, and kind of in shock. Might have been the furthest ball I've ever seen. It was just crazy.
Marsh: The reactions were kind of jaw dropping, you know? But that's Schwarber for you though. He's got the ability to do that.
Schwarber’s blast wasn’t just majestic, it was meaningful. It doubled the Phillies lead and gave them additional breathing room against a Padres team that came from behind twice in three games against the Dodgers to upset them in the NLDS. Once Schwarber left the yard, it made a comeback that much less likely, and sent the Phillies on their way to a Game 1 victory.
Guthrie: Two runs with Zack feels pretty confident. So that was pretty cool.
Hall: To hit a ball like that in a game again like this off a guy like (Darvish) is what's most impressive. I mean, that's a big name. You know, in a big game like that. That's what makes me more impressive.
Schwarber: Yeah, sure, that one was definitely a hard-hit baseball. Like I said, it's good to be able to help contribute there and start feeling a little bit better.