The second inning of Thursday night’s 10-0 win over Miami featured more than 1,200 feet of home runs, eight hits, and the overwhelming sentiment that the Phillies are finally exciting again.
It is no secret that the tide of an agonizing season turned last month when Rhys Hoskins arrived from Allentown. And now the tide of a rebuilding process seem to be shifting, too.
The Phillies — who were powered Thursday at Citizens Bank Park by Hoskins’ 18th homer — quickly became watchable last month because of the rookie’s unreal homer surge. They then became exciting, seeming to rally around Hoskins. September is pacing to be their best month of offensive production. The team’s cast of prospects that toiled the last few seasons in the minor leagues have begun to arrive. And now their lineup looks to be for real.
“You can see it. There’s a spark of energy that entered our lineup,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “We added the two guys — Hoskins and [Nick] Williams — and they really provided a real spark to the entire team. It lengthens out the lineup and everyone is competing now. They’re responding and playing with a whole lot more energy.”
Jorge Alfaro and Freddy Galvis homered in the second inning before Hoskins sent his blast to right field. It was his first opposite-field homer as his first 17 went to left or center field. He homered for the third straight game and has homered in five of his last six. It was his 10th homer this season with two strikes and he leads all of baseball in homers since Aug. 10, the day he joined the Phillies.
Hoskins’ home run, which traveled 391 feet, was the shortest of the three. Alfaro hit a 459-foot bomb and Galvis’ traveled 414 feet. J.P. Crawford added a two-run single and Williams extended his hitting streak to 12 games, both providing more reasons for hope in 2018. Cameron Perkins homered to right in the eighth for his first career home run.
“It’s ridiculous,” Perkins said of Hoskins. “It’s fun to watch but it’s still underappreciated. I don’t think everyone quite understands how hard it is to do that over and over again. They’re trying to pitch around him and they can’t. Then he walks. They’re like ‘OK. I have to throw him a strike.’ Then he hits a homerun. It’s just like what do you do. I’ve playing with him all year and this is the same exact thing. He’s just so good at putting quality at-bats together.”
Hoskins has a 1.247 OPS through 147 plate appearances. Only Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, and Ted Williams have finished a season with that high of an OPS and at least that many plate appearances. He is easily the centerpiece of next year’s inspiring lineup.
“Hoskins hit another one. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah about Hoskins. Typical,” Mackanin said.
Jake Thompson pitched 51/3 scoreless innings. The righthander allowed six hits, walked four, and struck out six. He stymied a Marlins team that looks to have little interest in playing out the season’s final string.
Manager Don Mattingly benched his outfielders — Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna — after saying on Wednesday that it “was the worst feeling I’ve ever had after a game.” The manager could not have felt any better after Thursday’s beatdown. The Phillies battered former Phil Vance Worley, who yielded eight runs and recorded just four outs.
There now seems to be a path for the Phillies to steer clear of being baseball’s worst team for the second time in three years. They should also avoid their first 100-loss season since 1961, a scenario that seemed highly unlikely in the middle of the summer. The Phillies need to win just six of their final 16 games to avoid the mark.
The No. 1 pick in June would have been a nice prize, but it is much sweeter for the Phillies to enter an offseason with the belief that they have a credible lineup to start 2018. They have scored more runs this season ( 621) than they did all of last season. They are on pace to score their highest run total since 2011. The Phillies will surely draft second or third in exchange for knowing they have a core of hitters to build around.They may not be ready yet to contend for the playoffs, but they will at least begin the season with much more intrigue than they started this year with. This season was a fact-finding mission to learn who the Phillies had. A search, Pete Mackanin often said, for 25 good men. Next season will no longer be a search for answers and a sift for players. This season ends in three weeks and for the first time in a while there will be real anticipation for spring training because the Phillies are finally exciting again.
Published at Fri, 15 Sep 2017 09:11:28 +0000