Realmuto homers as Arrieta shines; Phillies shutout Braves, 5-0

Realmuto homers to lift Phillies past Braves
J.T. Realmuto may not want to vocalize his thoughts about his impending free agency, so instead, he's letting his play on the diamond speak loudly. He homered on Saturday night with a solo shot in the fourth inning, his fourth of the season, as part of a four-run inning in an impressive 5-0 shutout of the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

Through eight games, Realmuto is batting .333 (9-for-27) with four home runs, nine RBIs and a 1.178 OPS this season.

“That’s J.T., man,” said Bryce Harper, who finished the night 2-for-4 with a run scored. “He’s out there with a vengeance right now. He’s going about it the right way. He’s catching for us, throwing guys out, just being J.T. pretty much. He’s doing a great job out there for us and being a game-changer really, lengthening our lineup, and when one of us isn’t hitting, it’s good to see another guy hitting and picking it up for all of us.”

Jay Bruce also homered in the fourth and drove in three runs on the evening.

Jake Arrieta was sharp for the Phils, tossing six scoreless innings. He surrendered just three hits and struck out six. It was his first start of six or more scoreless innings since an eight-inning scoreless performance on Aug 6., 2018, in Arizona.

"What I've seen in the first two starts is extremely impressive in its execution," manager Joe Girardi said of Arrieta. "He was really sharp tonight again. It's really encouraging. I feel really good about what he's going to do."

Through two starts, Arrieta is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA.

“Everything's coming out of my hand a little bit more crisp, especially the command glove-side and being able to move the sinker in -- especially [against] right-handed hitters -- at will," Arrieta said. "That ability is there, so I have more weapons at my disposal that I didn't necessarily have in the last year or two. So, you know, that's a good sign for us.”

The win pushed the Phillies to the .500 mark for the first time since Opening Day. Perhaps just as important, Jose Alvarez, Tommy Hunter and Deolis Guerra combined for three scoreless innings in relief and allowed just one baserunner. A good sign from a bullpen that's been demolished for much of the early going this season.

The two clubs will play a doubleheader on Sunday. Vince Velasquez will start one of the contests, while top pitching prospect Spencer Howard will start the opposite end of the twinbill.

More on Howard
The Phillies will add the 24-year-old righty to the active roster on Sunday.

"Big fastball, really good slider-changeup combination, emerging curveball," pitching coach Bryan Price said Saturday, talking of Howard. "And he throws strikes, he competes well, controls the running game. He's a very polished young guy with a big arm.

"Quite often when you find guys with velocity, it takes time for them to figure out command or how to sequence their pitches. I just think he's a polished kid. I think he's ready to come up and help us."
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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