PHILADELPHIA -- Rhys Hoskins' absence from the Phillies' lineup could be a source of agita for some.But anybody who knows Phillies manager Gabe Kapler knows that he plans to rest everybody, even his best hitter, on occasion. He hopes those breaks, even if they are infrequent, keep his players healthy
PHILADELPHIA -- Rhys Hoskins' absence from the Phillies' lineup could be a source of agita for some.
But anybody who knows Phillies manager Gabe Kapler knows that he plans to rest everybody, even his best hitter, on occasion. He hopes those breaks, even if they are infrequent, keep his players healthy and strong for a potential postseason push in August and September -- and maybe some postseason baseball in October, too.
Hoskins did not start in Wednesday night's 11-3 victory over the Giants at Citizens Bank Park. It is just the second time this season he has not started a game. The Phillies did not need him, although he had a pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the sixth, as they remained a half-game behind the Braves in the National League East and put themselves in position to sweep the four-game series against the Giants with a victory Thursday.
"You give Rhys a night off, Scotty [Kingery] a night off and everybody else just piles on," said Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta, who pitched five scoreless innings. "We're rolling right now. Everybody is swinging the bat really well."
Carlos Santana, who might have been the unluckiest hitter in baseball the first month of the season, is swinging one of the hottest bats in baseball in May. He went 3-for-5 with a career-high-tying five RBIs. Maikel Franco, who has been playing like an All-Star third baseman the past few weeks, went 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs. Aaron Altherr, who also started the season slowly, reached base twice and scored twice.
"It's a good lineup," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "They do a good job of keeping the line moving over there. You look at all those guys -- they did something to contribute tonight."
The Phillies' lineup is looking deeper and more dangerous with Santana, Franco and Altherr swinging the bat well. It had been the Hoskins, Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez show the first month of the season.
Santana hit .153 with two homers, 11 RBIs and a .571 OPS through the end of April. He is hitting .294 with three home runs, 12 RBIs and a 1.069 OPS in eight games this month. Eight of his 10 hits this month are extra-base hits.
"It's a big difference," Santana said.
Franco is hitting .292 with seven home runs, 28 RBIs and an .865 OPS, even after posting a .699 OPS through his first 12 games. He is hitting .338 with five homers, 13 RBIs and a .966 OPS in 19 games since April 17.
"Franco is great," Santana said. "He's working hard. He's been working hard with me. Today he worked early in the field, doing extra workouts. He feels comfortable. He's a great player with great ability."
"Really important to have another right-handed hitter right in the middle of our lineup that can do that kind of damage," Kapler said. "It's been nice to see Maikey come to life."
Altherr is hitting .314 with two homers, 10 RBIs and a .929 OPS in his last 16 games.
"Everybody is together," Santana said. "It doesn't matter when the lineup changes. Looking at today, Hoskins got the day off. But everybody is comfortable, playing hard, the approach -- everything is positive."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Pivetta rebounded from arguably the worst start of his career Friday, when he allowed six runs in one-plus inning in a loss to the Nationals. After Pivetta threw 31 pitches in the first inning against the Giants, who fouled off seven pitches in the first frame, he cruised. He allowed just four hits and struck out seven in five scoreless innings to improve to improve to 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA.
"They're a veteran hitting club, they spoiled some pitches and I was able to capitalize and throw some breakers when I needed them," Pivetta said. "That first inning kind of killed me. It was a little hard, but I got out of it with no runs so I was pretty happy with that."
Herrera picked up his first of three walks in the first inning to extend his on-base streak to 38 games. He is tied with Jimmy Rollins (2005-06) for the longest streak by a Phillies player since Bobby Abreu had a 48-game streak in 2000-01.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Santana had 10 consecutive hits go for extra bases from the sixth inning on April 25 through his double in the first inning. Since 1999, Herrera (12 in 2017) and Chase Utley (10 in 2007) are the only other Phillies players with 10 or more consecutive hits going for extra bases.
HE SAID IT
"We love to see that kind of fire. In fact, one of the things we'll say frequently when a guy has had a good game and he's walking up to the plate for the last time is, 'Get greedy. Be greedy here, don't give any at-bats away.'" -- Kapler, on Franco's reaction after flying out in his last at-bat. Franco angrily hit himself on his helmet with his bat for missing his pitch
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Phillies challenged a play in the fifth inning when first-base umpire Mark Carlson called out Kingery on a ground ball to third baseman Evan Longoria. Replay showed that Kingery beat the throw from Longoria and officials overturned the call. The Phillies are 11-for-13 on challenges this season.
The Phillies and Giants play the final game of their four-game series Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez (2-4, 5.14 ERA) faces Giants left-hander Ty Blach (3-3, 3.60 ERA). Velasquez allowed one run in five innings in his last start Saturday against the Nationals at Nationals Park, but he has a 7.24 ERA in his last three starts. The game will be broadcast exclusively on Facebook.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.