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Altherr heats up, goes deep twice vs. Marlins

Walding homers for first career hit; Eflin snaps skid with quality start
Special to MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Altherr has not had a lot of chances lately. The outfielder was sent to Triple-A in late July, and entering Friday, he had just seven at-bats since rejoining the Phillies in September.

But he got a start in the Phillies' series opener against the Marlins, just his second of the month. Altherr turned the opportunity into his best game of the season.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Altherr has not had a lot of chances lately. The outfielder was sent to Triple-A in late July, and entering Friday, he had just seven at-bats since rejoining the Phillies in September.

But he got a start in the Phillies' series opener against the Marlins, just his second of the month. Altherr turned the opportunity into his best game of the season.

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Altherr went 4-for-5 with two homers and five RBIs against Miami. It was part of an 18-hit, five-homer outburst for the Phillies' offense in a 14-2 drubbing that snapped a season-worst five-game losing streak.

Video: MIA@PHI: Phils smash 5 home runs in 14-2 victory

"For some reason, the last couple of days, I felt really good in BP," Altherr said. "I decided to bring it to the game and see how it would translate, and I was able to do that."

Altherr took Wei-Yin Chen deep for a two-run, 401-foot homer in the second inning, his first home run since June 6. He followed it up with a three-run shot off Marlins reliever Tayron Guerrero in the fifth inning.

Altherr also scored in the fourth, making a heads-up play on the bases. He took off from second base on a fielder's choice, then smoothly eluded J.T. Realmuto's tag at home plate.

Video: MIA@PHI: Altherr's hustles to score on Quinn's FC

"As soon as I started running, I saw [third-base coach Dusty Wathan] waving me around," Altherr said. "Just tried to kick it into gear and get there."

Altherr, who hit 19 homers and had an .856 OPS in 107 games last season, entered the season as a regular outfielder for the Phillies. However, his average hovered below .200 for most of the season, and he saw less playing time before he was sent to the Minors.

His four-hit night raised his season average by 14 points to .185, and his OPS was boosted by 48 points to .638.

"You always tell a hitter whose stats don't look like they want them to look, 'Don't try to make it all up in one game.' And he kind of made up a lot of ground today," manager Gabe Kapler said.

Phillies' hitting coach confident in team's philosophy

Altherr's 2018 numbers will still end up below where he and the Phillies would like them, but performances like his on Friday should get the 27-year-old outfielder in the lineup more often in the season's final three weeks.

"Just because he hasn't had the success that he's wanted to to this point, it doesn't mean we don't have confidence in the overall package, the baseball player that he is," Kapler said. "He showed it last year. We've seen it in flashes this year. We saw it all in a bunch tonight."

Hoskins could see more time at first base

Roman Quinn and Rhys Hoskins also went deep, and Mitch Walding capped off the downpour of home runs with a two-run blast in the eighth for his first Major League hit. The offense provided plenty of support for starter Zach Eflin, who threw 6 1/3 strong innings, giving up just one run on five hits while striking out four batters.

Video: MIA@PHI: Hoskins pads lead with 2-run homer in 6th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Effective Eflin : Eflin entered Friday's game with a 7.71 ERA over his last five starts, but bounced back with a quality start against the Marlins. Eflin's outing marked the first time since June 27 that he gave up less than two earned runs. The only damage off Eflin was a solo homer from Realmuto. Eflin credited the strong start on the reliance of his four-seam fastball, which he threw 47 percent of the time.

"I really just needed to get back to my fastball," Eflin said. "I was really throwing too much offspeed up there and letting them get comfortable and sit on it. At the end of the day, I have to remember I have a really good fastball."

Video: MIA@PHI: Eflin K's 4 over 6 1/3 frames of 1-run ball

Over the Wal-ding: Walding recorded his first career hit in the eighth inning, smashing a 435-foot, two-run homer in his 15th career at-bat. It was a memorable moment for the rookie infielder, even if it came on a 61-mph offering from Bryan Holaday, a Marlins catcher who pitched the eighth inning.

"Probably one of the happiest moments I had in my life," Walding said. "It's been 14 at-bats, I finally got that one, and it was an unbelievable moment."

Video: MIA@PHI: Walding belts 2-run HR for 1st career hit

SOUND SMART
Altherr's multi-homer game was the fourth of his career and his first since July 28, 2017. Friday's game also marked the first time he had four hits in a game since Sept. 25, 2015.

HE SAID IT
"When he executes with his four-seam fastball to left-handed hitters up and away, it's almost an unhittable pitch. And then you see him execute with his fastball in to right-handed hitters like he did to Starlin Castro on a couple different occasions, you really kind of see how brilliant he can be." -- Kapler, on Eflin

UP NEXT
Vince Velasquez will face the Marlins for the fourth and final time this season on Saturday night in a 7:05 p.m. ET tilt at Citizens Bank Park. The right-hander has a 6.66 ERA in his last six starts, but holds a 2.08 ERA against Miami in 2018. The Marlins had not announced a starter for the game as of Friday night.

Stephen Pianovich is a contributor to MLB.com based in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Phillies, Aaron Altherr