Phillies dominance of Braves continues; Herrera stays hot

Philadelphia continues to dominate Atlanta; Herrera stays hot
Odubel Herrera continued swinging a hot bat on Wednesday night, driving in a run with a pair of triples in the Phillies' 3-2 win over the Braves at SunTrust Park. The win marked the Phillies third series sweep of the Braves this season.

Herrera lined a triple to right field in the first inning off Braves starter left-hander Sean Newcomb. He added another triple to center field in the third, driving in Freddy Galvis from first base.

“This guy is a .290-plus hitter and if he gains a little more discipline at the plate he’s a potential batting champion, in my opinion,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “He’s got great hand-eye coordination and there’s no reason why he can’t improve.”

Herrera is batting .340 since June 1 with an OPS on the season of .793, ranking him third among all major-league centerfielders, trailing only Charlie Blackmon and Christian Yelich.

Assuming Herrera can overcome the mental miscues and distractions that seem to sporadically pop up, he's showing how important of a piece he can be when the Phillies ideally return to contention within the next few years.

Focus is the key to his future success.

“It’s hard but you have to do it. It’s hard,” Herrera said. “This game is hard. You have to do it and I’m going to. I’m going to keep growing up and getting better.”

Jerad Eickhoff allowed two runs over 6 2/3 innings in the winning effort. He collected six strikeouts and didn't issue a walk. Entering Wednesday he had gone 17 starts without tossing at least six innings.

“One thing that he did extremely well, he threw a ton of curveballs and they just couldn’t solve that curveball,” Mackanin said. “I think he got tired in that seventh inning. All in all it was an outstanding performance against a good lineup.”

Hector Neris closed out the ninth to nail down his 13th save.

The Phillies return home for Alumni Weekend with a four-game set against the New York Mets. Vince Velasquez is scheduled to start Thursday's series opener.

Hoskins Watch
Triple-A prospect Rhys Hoskins is expected to join the Phillies at some point this weekend. He's been playing left field for the IronPigs the last couple nights given the injury to Aaron Altherr.

"I must say that I'm anxious to see him at this level, see how he competes," Mackanin said Wednesday. "I liked his approach in Spring Training. If his at-bats this spring are any indication of what he can do here, he looks like he can handle it here. Matt [Klentak] will make that decision. I'll defer to the people that see him more often than I do."

A first baseman by trade, Hoskins is blocked by Tommy Joseph for now at the big league level, however, the trade of Howie Kendrick to the Nationals at the deadline and the injury to Altherr opened up an opportunity to fit Hoskins' bat into the big league lineup.

Hoskins, 24, is the Phillies' No. 6 prospect according to MLB.com. He's hitting .284 with 29 homers and 91 RBI at Lehigh Valley.

The move to left field is temporary, but it proves the Phillies will soon have a decision about their future at first base.

"That's a Matt question," Mackanin said last week. "It's up to him what we do next."
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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