PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Kyle Schwarber is pounding postseason homers at such a rate that he fits right in with Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson.
The tattooed slugger is doing it all while powering the Philadelphia Phillies toward a chance for the franchise’s first World Series championship since 2008.
“If you want to get paid, win baseball games,” he said. “That goes a long way.”
So do his Schwarbombs — especially in October.
Schwarber hit two of Philadelphia’s three solo homers off Merrill Kelly, and the sweet-swinging Phillies pounded the Arizona Diamondbacks 10-0 on Tuesday night for a 2-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.
Trea Turner also connected and J.T. Realmuto had two hits and three RBIs as Philadelphia improved to 7-1 in the playoffs, moving closer to a second straight World Series appearance. Aaron Nola tossed three-hit ball and struck out seven in six innings.
Game 3 is Thursday at Chase Field. The Texas Rangers also hold a 2-0 lead over the Houston Astros in the ALCS headed into Wednesday’s game.
“I think this is kind of the lineup that we envisioned ourselves having all season long,” Realmuto said. “I just think that we’re clicking at the right time right now.”
It was another noisy night in Philly as Kelly was roasted after saying fans at Citizens Bank Park could not possibly be any louder than the ones he heard cheering for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Not just any Classic game. The one in May when Turner hit a grand slam for the United States that lifted them into the tournament’s semifinals.
“I haven’t obviously heard this place on the field,” Kelly said ahead of Game 1, “but I would be very surprised if it trumped that (WBC) game down in Miami.”
As the kids say, challenge accepted.
Kelly, a 12-game winner this season, was voraciously booed from pregame introductions to his walk to the mound, a sort of we’ll-show-you vibe from 45,412 Phillies diehards determined to shake the ballpark again in October.
“AC/DC concert level,” loud, Turner said before Game 2.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson said a rival coach told him last season that a playoff game in Philly was “four hours of hell,” and Turner sent a charge through the delirious crowd when he clocked a four-seam fastball to left-center field for a 1-0 lead in the first.
“It was definitely loud,” Turner said.
Kelly said his comments were taken out of context and “made into something more than it should have been.”
“I knew it from the start that the energy was going to be loud,” he said. “I knew these fans bring a ton of energy.”
Boisterous fans are great. So is the long ball. Schwarber’s homers in the third and sixth were Philadelphia’s 14th and 15th homers in the last four games as the Phillies continue to mash their way through October.
Pitching, though, remains the ultimate decider.
Nola, eligible for free agency after the World Series, has only fattened the numbers for his impending contract. The longest-tenured Phillie, Nola has won all three postseason starts and struck out 19. His ERA, 0.96.
Nola tossed seven shutout innings in the Wild Card Series against Miami and struck out nine against the Braves in the NLDS. Against Corbin Carroll, Christian Walker and the Diamondbacks, Nola again was spotless.
“He’s really just being unpredictable and getting ahead of guys and being able to put them away when he is ahead,” Realmuto said.
The Phillies flashed their leather to keep Arizona in check. Bryce Harper made a diving stab at first to get Carroll in the third. Alec Bohm made a diving snag at third and one-hopped the throw to get Gabriel Moreno in the second.
Kelly was booed off the mound when he was lifted for Joe Mantiply in the sixth and left a runner on base. Bryson Stott singled and Realmuto followed with a two-run double. After a two-out walk, Brandon Marsh added an RBI double for a 6-0 lead.
At that point, there was no use stretching Nola, not when the Phillies could save him for a start later in the series — or possibly, his next one against a team from Texas.
“I feel like we like our chances, for sure,” Nola said.
BROAD STREET BOMBERS
The Phillies have four individual multihomer games this postseason, tying the 2009 Phillies and 2002 Angels for the most by a team in a postseason.
Schwarber, who hit six for the Phillies in last season’s playoffs, has 18 career in the postseason, tying him with Jackson and Mantle on the list. Only six players are ahead of him in MLB history.
Schwarber had the crowd standing in anticipation of a third homer in the seventh but he walked.
The Phillies beat the Braves 10-2 in Game 3 of the NLDS, marking the second time in franchise history (2009) they have scored 10 runs in multiple games in a single postseason.
OUT OF SORTS
The Diamondbacks are headed home all out of sorts. Stott popped one up 17 feet from the plate in the seventh that three fielders looked at and let drop for a single. He scored on a sacrifice fly for a 10-0 lead.
Arizona was limited to four hits for the second straight game while its top two starters combined to give up six homers.
“Look, we could be playing on the moon. Everybody is talking about coming into this environment, and I don’t care,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “We have to play better baseball. Everybody has to be better. You can start with the manager and then trickle all the way down through the entire team.”
The Diamondbacks will throw rookie right-hander Brandon Pfaadt (3-9, 5.72 ERA) in Game 3 while the Phillies start left-hander Ranger Suárez (4-6, 4.18 ERA; 1-0 postseason).
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