By Sam Bush
Cameron Rupp’s three-run home run to center field in the fourth inning helped the Phillies to a 5-4 victory over the Padres.
Rupp sent the 3-2 pitch sailing until it smashed into the middle of a palm tree just beyond the 396-foot sign.
“The pitch that Rupp hit was a palm ball,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin joked.
“I didn’t miss it,” said Rupp, who went 2-for-4 with four RBIs.
Rupp has an .831 OPS, third among 20 qualified MLB catchers. Only Wilson Ramos (.928) and Jonathan Lucroy (.894) have been better at the plate.
“I can’t tell you how much more fun baseball is when you hit homers and drive runs in and win games,” Rupp said. “It’s so much more fun. It’s always great to see something that you work at, you see the success, especially fairly quick. I’m just trying to stay with it. Stay within myself. It’s awesome that I’ve had the success so far.”
Rupp, who doubled to score a run in the sixth, has homered in three consecutive games, becoming the first Phillies catcher to homer in three consecutive games since Mike Lieberthal from July 27-30, 1999. The last Phillies catcher to homer in four consecutive games is Darren Daulton from June 7-12, 1992.
Rupp is hitting .357 (5-for-14) with one double, three home runs and eight RBIs in three games this month.
“One of the things about what Rupp has done is he’s drastically changed his approach at the plate and it’s paying off for him, which is huge,” Mackanin said. “If other guys that need to make an overhaul on their swing would look at what Rupp has accomplished — and it’s all pretty much the same, staying on top of the ball and not dropping the back side and getting underneath the ball. If the other hitters that need to do that would pay attention, it would help them also.
“We’re trying like hell to get them do that. It’s not easily done. But Rupp spent the whole winter believing in that and it’s paying off for him.”
This was the first time Rupp ever hit an odd object in the outfield on a home run. No bulls for a free steak. No “Hit It Here” signs, which the Padres’ Wil Myers almost hit in the seventh inning in left field.
“I wonder what he would have won,” Rupp said.