Cameron Rupp might be disappointed to learn the calendar turns to September on Tuesday.
The Phillies' 26-year-old catcher continued his torrid August on Sunday with yet another home run, this one off James Shields in a 9-4 loss to the San Diego Padres. Rupp's fourth long ball in a six-game span was his seventh of the month, making him the first Phillies catcher with seven in a calendar month since Mike Lieberthal belted eight in August 2002.
Rupp, who didn't exhaust his rookie status until this season, is the first Phillies rookie catcher to hit seven home runs in a month since Butch Henline in September 1922.
"Well, that's pretty cool," Rupp said.
In his last 19 games, Rupp is hitting a blistering .323 with three doubles, seven home runs, and 18 RBIs. He did not hit his first major-league home run until his 173d plate appearance, on June 23 at Yankee Stadium. Sunday's came on a 3-1 fastball in the second inning. He drove it the opposite way to right field.
"[I'm] comfortable. [I'm] seeing the ball. The timing is there," he said. "I'm getting a lot of playing time, and I think that just makes a huge difference, when you're getting everyday at-bats and you're seeing guys [for a second time]. I think that's been huge."
Despite indicating Saturday night that he might give Cesar Hernandez a day off Sunday, interim manager Pete Mackanin decided to again start his slumping second baseman in the series finale.
Hernandez, who dropped from the leadoff spot to the two-hole, rewarded his skipper with a two-hit game. In the first inning, he slapped James Shields' 0-1 change-up the opposite way to left field. In the eighth, facing righthander Odrisamer Despaigne, he tripled off the top of the wall in right-center field, driving in Odubel Herrera.
Hernandez entered the game with three hits in his previous 34 at-bats.
"I just decided to make him battle out of it," Mackanin said. "That's what we need to see. If he's going to be the everyday second baseman, we want him to play 160 games. That's what we want. Not to give him two days off."
Herrera had his first four-hit game, all singles, improving his batting average to .295. . . . Wednesday's series finale against the New York Mets will pit Aaron Nola against Matt Harvey. Nola, 22, has allowed one run over his last two starts (15 innings). Harvey, 26, has allowed one over his last four (27 innings). . . . The Phillies claimed lefthanded reliever Ken Roberts off waivers from the Colorado Rockies and optioned him to triple-A Lehigh Valley. A likely September call-up, Roberts, 27, posted a 5.27 ERA in 91/3 major-league innings this season.
- Jake Kaplan