Sometimes phenomena are unexplainable.

The creation of Stonehenge. The placebo effect. June Kyle Schwarber.

Eventually, the human thirst for knowledge and understanding may finally discover how and why these things happen, but for the moment, it’s probably best to just leave well enough alone. Especially when it comes to Schwarber, who is nearing legendary status for his June performances.

He was already eighth all-time in slugging percentage in the month for anyone with at least 500 June at bats. He’s already the most prolific home run hitter from that same group, hitting a tater once every 9.4 plate appearances in the month. And his legend has been discussed ad nauseam – maybe even more so than that of Paul Bunyan, who honestly never swung his axe with the same authority as June Schwarber swings his bat.

When he had a night like Friday, which already included two walks, two runs, and this glorious triple…

…June Schwarber stepping to the plate in the bottom of the ninth of a tie ball game, with two outs and facing a left-handed pitcher meant only one thing, the legend was about to grow even larger:

At some point, there are no longer words to describe this:

In eight games in June, Schwarber has simply been crushing it. He’s slashing .267/.405/.767 with a 1.172 OPS, four homers and eight RBI. Of his eight hits this month, six have been for extra bases. He’s walked seven times.

It’s nights like Friday, where you beat a good Los Angeles Dodgers team 5-4, that Schwarber proves why he is a good leadoff hitter when he’s going well. He scored three runs and was on base four times. It was his fourth walk-off homer of his career, the sixth walk-off win of the season for the Phillies (back-to-back nights) and the team has won six straight.

Adding to the fable of June Schwarber is what led up to this game.

Schwarber took batting practice before the game against Roger Clemens.

The controversial yet amazing Clemens, who won an MLB Record seven Cy Young Awards and had the third-highest pitching WAR and third-most strikeouts in the history of the sport, is in town for the week to see his son Kody, first play against his former team – the Detroit Tigers – and then catch the weekend set with the Dodgers.

The elder Clemens, now 60, offered to throw a little BP, so he did – to his son, to Nick Castellanos’ son Liam, and to Schwarber.

“It’s ‘The Rocket,’ right?” said Schwarber. “To be able to say that you hit BP off Roger Clemens… I told Kody, ‘He needs to get ready for tomorrow. Better make sure he ices that thing up tonight.'”

Schwarber took The Rocket deep twice, trash talking good-naturedly after the first one, but Clemens got even with Schwarber, throwing him a splitter, that tied up Schwarber so much on a swing that he whiffed and dropped to a knee in the process.

“It was pretty cool,” Schwarber admitted.

What his teammates, in addition to Phillies fans, find cool is that the return of the Schwarbarian – who emerges every year at this time – has helped the Phillies go on their longest winning streak of the season (six games) and claw back to within one game of the .500 mark.

But it wasn’t just Schwarber on Friday.

Ranger’s Back

Ranger Suarez was superb again. For the third start in a row, Suarez has looked like himself and was keeping Dodgers hitters off balance much of the night.

Suarez threw six innings and allowed just one run – which came in the first inning following a pair of doubles from Freddie Freeman and J.D. Martinez.

Aside from that, Suarez allowed just two more hits, two walks, and struck out eight. His fastball was electric, with velocity touching 96MPH, something you don’t normally see from Suarez.

After the game, he credited the Phillies’ trainers and strength and conditioning coaches for getting him to the point where his velocity can get that high.

His most impressive inning was the fifth, with the score still knotted at 1-1. Suarez was facing the top of the Dodgers order and struck out Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Will Smith consecutively.

Phillies manager Rob Thomson called it the “best inning of his career.”

He added a strikeout of J.D. Martinez to lead off the sixth inning, which made it four in row against some of the best hitters in the game.

He’s now posted a 1.83 ERA in his last three starts, while the Phillies have five consecutive quality starts from their starters, which is a great sign for a team rapidly climbing their way out of an early season hole that saw them unexpectedly fall seven games under .500 and into a last place tie in the division just a week earlier.

The Phillies also got an RBI single from Bryce Harper, an RBI double from Castellanos, and an RBI single from Trea Turner, who had another two-hit game as they built a 4-1 lead.

Bullpen ups and downs

Matt Strahm relieved Suarez in the seventh, but yielded a lead off walk, and then after getting two outs, was tagged for back-to-back homers by Betts and Freeman, allowing the Dodgers to tie the score.

After being so good for the Phillies to start the season, Strahm has gotten a little leaky of late. In his last six games, which includes two starts as an opener, Strahm has thrown 9 1/3 innings and has a 6.75 ERA allowing 10 hits, seven runs, all earned, two walks, eight strikeouts and four home runs. Opponents have a 1.002 OPS against him in that time.

Some were questioning going to Strahm in the seventh inning, but Thomson said after the game that neither Craig Kimbrel nor Seranthony Dominguez were available Friday. The Phillies then chose Strahm instead of Jeff Hoffman or Yunior Marte, who were the right-handed options in that spot.

Jose Alvarado relieved Strahm in the eighth and he too ran into some trouble right away, giving up a double to Martinez that was a foot shy of being a home run, and then was saved by a diving catch by Bryson Stott that clearly saved a run.

From there though, Alvarado mostly settled down. He picked up a strikeout before walking Miguel Vargas. It was Alvarado’s first walk since last September.

But Alvarado has discovered a way to calm himself down in tense moments. Focus on the centerfield flagpole.

“It was a little bit quick,” Alvarado said of the start of the inning. When that happens, “I turn around, look out (at the flagpole) in center field, and tell myself, ‘Come on. You can do it’ Just throw the ball and see what happens. ‘O.K? Just hit the target.’ That target is my best friend, you know?”

Maybe it’s just finding something not related to the game as a focal point to have that internal monologue. Maybe the waving of the flag in the wind is a calming visual. Maybe it reminds him of something else in his life that has always been a calming influence. Who knows? But whatever it is, it gets him re-focused on hitting his best friend.

And when he hits that target, he’s one of the best in the business, as first Chris Taylor and later Jonny DeLuca experienced on the final out of the eighth inning.

Gregory Soto pitched a clean ninth inning, punching out Freeman to end it and to set up the stage for Schwarber’s heroics in the bottom half.

Miscellaneous Notes:

  • To bring Alvarado back onto the active roster, the Phillies optioned Connor Brogdon to AAA Lehigh Valley. It was a little bit of a surprise that Brogdon was the choice, rather than, say, DFA Dylan Covey, but the Phillies need Covey for their next bullpen game Monday, at least, to serve as the bulk pitcher. Brogdon, who after a great start to the season, has struggled lately, especially against lefties, which has usually been a strength for him, will have a reset in the minors. Thomson said they want to build him up to be able to be a multiple inning reliever while he’s down there, and that he expects it to be a short stint before he’s recalled. The earliest Brogdon can rejoin the team is for the start of the series against the New York Mets on June 23.
  • Alec Bohm is still feeling some tightness in his hamstring. As such, he will not come off the I.L. Saturday, as originally thought. The Philies will continue to work him and hope to have him back early next week. Instead, the Phillies continue a three-man rotation of Edmundo Sosa, Josh Harrison and Drew Ellis to replace Bohm. While all three have made minor contributions (Ellis did have a two homer game in a blowout of Washington), none have really stood out. I asked Thomson if the plan was to continue to alternate them. He said yes, but “I’d like to see somebody take it. With Ranger on the mound and the fact he throws a lot of ground balls, we wanted the defensive element (Sosa). They’ve all played pretty good, but I’d like to see somebody take it.”
  • Other than an couple games against the Nats last week, J.T. Realmuto is really fighting it at the plate. In his last 20 games, Realmuto is slashing .121/.216/.258 with a woeful OPS of .474. He has just eight hits – three singles, three doubles and two homers. He has struck out 17 times and only walked five times. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Garrett Stubbs get a start Saturday against Dodgers rookie sensation Bobby Miller.