August 29, 2023
It took nearly the whole summer, but Trea Turner is finally looking like the guy Philadelphia had been waiting for.
The All-Star who was connected to the Phillies through hot stove rumors dating as far back as early last season, the bat who went on an absolute tear through the World Baseball Classic for Team USA back in the spring, and the do-it-all shortstop the Phils gave $300 million to as one of those last pieces to help push them all the way back to the World Series – and win it this time.
Trea Turner is finally that guy – again – and the timing may not have been any better.
Against the Angels on Monday night down at Citizens Bank Park, Turner flashed the glove to get Taijaun Walker out of a bases-loaded jam early, then went on to homer twice – a solo shot in the bottom of the first and then a two-run bomb in the fifth – to put the Phillies on the path to a 6-4 win, their fourth straight and their 16th this month.
They're 73-58 entering game 2 of 3 against the Halos on Tuesday, are holding an increasingly comfortable 4.5-game lead over the Cubs and Diamondbacks for the NL's top Wild Card spot, and have been hitting at such a ridiculous pace through the month of August that they're never truly out of any game they play right now, even if it ends up a loss. (By the way, the pitching has only looked more and more solid of late too.)
The Phillies are hot, and Turner's resurgence has played a big part in that.
As uneven and often frustrating as the first few months of 2023 had been for the club, the fans, and Turner himself – all with incredibly high expectations – something finally clicked in August, or more specifically, clicked after that ovation Turner received coming home for the Royals series back on August 4.
Maybe he relaxed a bit knowing that the city had his back, or realized he didn't have to be Superman and do it all himself.
But either way, the numbers speak for themselves right now.
Since that show of support from the fans in that early August game against Kansas City, Turner is hitting .356 with a 1.083 OPS, seven home runs, and eight doubles. He's settled back into the No. 2 spot in the batting order behind unorthodox leadoff man Kyle Schwarber, and has looked more comfortable there than at any other point this season.
Moreover, in the 22 games since that ovation, Turner has at least a hit in all but two of them.
"It's a humbling game, I think we all know that," Turner said postgame Monday (via KYW's Dave Uram).
But it's also a game where the tide will eventually turn so long as you can weather the storm, and Turner's splits month-by-month are painting that picture:
|March/April||.260/.300/.374||4 / 2 / 7||7 / 32|
|May||.208/.257/.368||8 / 3 / 8||7 / 27|
|June||.279/.353/.414||5 / 3 / 14||10 / 24|
|July||.218/.269/.356||4 / 2 / 5||7 / 29|
|August||.313/.355/.606||8 / 7 / 20||7 / 19|
Tied 3-3 in the fifth Monday night, Turner stepped into the box with one out and Jake Cave as the runner on first. If this game was in May, the chances are he would have grounded into a double play chasing after a pitch, ending the inning and halting any shot at some offense dead in its tracks.
But in August? Yeah, he fell behind in an 0-2 count to Lucas Giolito on the mound, but sat on the hanging breaking ball that was the third pitch and teed off on it, sending it flying into the left-field seats for the go-ahead two-run shot.
There's comfort there now, and confidence, that just wasn't before.
"He's just being Trea, you know?" Manager Rob Thomson said postgame.
The guy Philadelphia had been waiting for.
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