Aaron Altherr emerging as slugging bright spot despite Philadelphia Phillies slide
PHILADELPHIA — There were few positives for Philadelphia Phillies manager Pete Mackanin to draw from his team’s 11-6 loss to the Seattle Marines on Wednesday afternoon. But he wanted to highlight them, including one in particular.
In defeat, outfielder Aaron Altherr slugged two home runs, including a three-run shot in the third inning, and continued the hottest streak of his young career.
“I’d like to talk about Altherr,” Mackanin said. “How about this guy? He’s relentless right now. He’s swinging the bat as well as I’ve seen anybody swing the bat.”
Altherr’s three-run bomb in the third — he added a solo shot to lead off the ninth — marked the third straight game in which he’s hit a three-run home run. The 26-year-old is the first Phillie to accomplish that since Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt in 1981, and he’s the first Phillie to hit a home run and drive in at least three runs in three straight games since Darren Daulton in 1994.
“It’s definitely been quite a while since I’ve felt this good at the plate, but unfortunately it’s in a loss,” Altherr said. “Hopefully, we can get back on track here soon.”
Two of Altherr’s home runs in the past three games have either tied it or given the Phillies the lead. He’s on his second eight-game hitting streak of the season, which is career-best mark, and he’s slashed .433/.541/1.067 with four doubles, five home runs, 15 RBI and seven walks during the streak.
For the season, Altherr leads the Phillies in batting average (.351), on-base percentage (.435), slugging percentage (.743) and home runs (seven). He’s appeared in 25 games this season and got his break when Howie Kendrick, the team’s opening day left fielder, went on the disabled list with a right abdominal strain in mid-April. He’s made the most of it so far.
Wednesday’s production came from the No. 3 spot in the batting order with third baseman Maikel Franco, who’s batting .207 with five home runs and a team-leading 25 RBI this season, getting the day off. Altherr had made 10 starts as the team’s No. 2 hitter and hit .410 out of that slot in the order.
“He certainly didn’t lose a beat with hitting in the third spot,” Mackanin said. “It didn’t seem to intimidate him at all. I think it might be good spot for him, for us.”
“It doesn’t really matter to me,” Altherr said. “I’ve hit third, fourth, fifth all up and down the minor leagues, so I’m comfortable hitting anywhere.”
With Franco struggling to get on track this season, Altherr can provide some more punch in the middle of the Phillies order, along with first baseman Tommy Joseph, who clubbed a home run as part of a three-hit day and is batting .393 this month.
For his part, Altherr isn’t wondering too much about why him and why now. The Phillies have lost 10 of 12 and are about to embark on a tough 12-game, three-city road trip. He’s just trying to make sure the success continues.
“I don’t think about it,” Altherr said. “Just try to keep having the same feel every day and see what happens.”