Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hoskins does it with the bat and glove as Philadelphia takes series

Rhys Hoskins homers again to help Philadelphia take series from the Cubs
The murmurs started behind home plate and quickly spread, morphing into a sustained roar engulfing Citizens Bank Park. Rhys Hoskins knew the applause was for him, but he's not the type to seek the spotlight. Then Daniel Nava stepped out of the batter's box and turned to Hoskins with a smile.

Cheers turned to a frenzy as Hoskins stepped out from the shadows of the Phillies' dugout pumping his fist to the sky.

In a year void of much to cheer about, Sunday's 6-3 win over the Cubs may have been a highlight and Hoskins, as he's done so many times over the last week, was the catalyst.

“To be the one they’re saying your name,” Hoskins said, “I just get the goosebumps thinking about it.”

Hoskins crushed his 11th homer of the season, making him the fastest player to reach that mark in Major League history. The blast also marked the fifth straight game he's homered to tie a Phillies record. His 11 homers this month is a franchise record for home runs in a month by a rookie. The overall franchise record for homers in a month is 15 held by Jim Thome and Cy Williams.

Hoskins has four more attempts to tie or surpass that record.

"I kept saying today that it’s not real,” said Nick Williams, whose two-run homer pushed the Phillies ahead. “It’s amazing. It’s fun to watch. It’s fun to be a part of and watch it live.”

“It’s unbelievable,” catcher Cameron Rupp said. “You’ve got to see it to believe it, and we’re getting to see it every day. It’s pretty freaking awesome.”

But it wasn't just with the bat. Hoskins helped with his glove making an incredible shoestring catch in left to start an inning-ending triple play to thwart a potential Cubs rally. His effort marked the first time in 53 years a triple play was initiated by a Phillies outfielder.

It was a game changer.

"What a game, I think the key to the game was when I put on the triple play sign. That was huge, I just saved it for that moment," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin joked after the game, adding that the play flipped the game's momentum "without question."

Hoskins broke in to snag a Javier Baez sinking liner. He then tossed the ball to Cesar Hernandez who stepped on the bag at second base before throwing to Tommy Joseph at first to conclude the play.

"It gets the energy up, plays like that," Mackanin said. "It helps give everyone a boost."

The Phillies rallied for five runs in the bottom of the fifth to capitalize on the key defensive play. Williams hit a two-run homer and Freddy Galvis chipped in with a two-run single.

Phillies starter Nick Pivetta benefited from the triple play as it enabled him to escape the fifth unscathed. He surrendered six hits on the afternoon while allowing three first inning runs. He collected five strikeouts but walked four. The bullpen combined for four scoreless innings, led by a pair from Edubray Ramos.

The story of the afternoon again though was Hoskins.

"He's going to be going into the Hall of Fame next week the way he's playing right now," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "It's insane right now and he played a major part in turning this game today. He looks like a really strong player."

In a year so full of despair, Hoskins is a light that perhaps good things are on the horizon.

"One day at a time though, that's how I approach things," Hoskins said.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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