Hoskins steals on Realmuto ... but J.T. gets last laugh

June 4th, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- It's never an easy task to steal a base off Phillies catcher . It's even more difficult to do so when Zack Wheeler -- one of the stingiest pitchers at holding runners -- is on the mound.

And taking Wheeler deep is obviously no easy task, either.

But none of that deterred former teammate and current Brewer from trying to do it all -- and sharing a laugh with his former teammates -- in his return to Citizens Bank Park during the Phillies' 3-1 win Monday night.

After working a leadoff walk in the fifth, Hoskins got a great jump off Wheeler and slid into second well ahead of Realmuto's throw. Hoskins immediately shot a look toward home plate, then flashed a smile as he stared in at the two-time Gold Glove-winning catcher. All Realmuto could do was laugh as he asked the umpire for a new ball and tossed it back to Wheeler.

But Realmuto would get the last laugh two pitches later, when Brewers center fielder Blake Perkins ripped a two-out single up the middle. Phillies center fielder Johan Rojas charged and fired a throw to Realmuto, who promptly slapped the tag on a sliding Hoskins to end the inning.

Realmuto spun and patted Hoskins' backside -- and Hoskins quickly returned a pat of his own -- before the two trotted back to their respective dugouts with a grin.

“Obviously, I wish we were able to get the run at home; Rojas made a great throw,” Hoskins said. “We’ll always be able to go back and forth about that.”

The unexpected stolen base capped an eventful trip around the bases for Hoskins, who shared an embrace with Bryce Harper -- much to the delight of the crowd -- after reaching first base. A couple batters later, Hoskins took off for just his 17th stolen base in seven seasons.

Keep in mind, Wheeler entered Monday night having allowed only 17 stolen bases in five seasons with the Phillies -- and just 11 of those came with Realmuto behind the plate.

So how did Hoskins pull it off?

Well, he got a running start that gave him a 30.8 foot secondary lead, according to Statcast. That was more than three feet farther than any other secondary lead he's taken this season (not including a full-count, two-out offering when he was the trail runner).

“I mean, he’s not really a runner,” Wheeler said. “I wasn’t changing up my looks at all. … He just got an easy bag right there.”

With Hoskins’ running start, Realmuto had no chance.

“It was definitely on Wheeler,” Realmuto said playfully. “But nonetheless, he stole the base on me. He said he's going to have that one forever.”

Not done getting the best of his former teammates just yet, Hoskins connected for a solo homer off Wheeler in his next at-bat. After giving Hoskins a number of ovations throughout the night, the Philadelphia faithful was seemingly split between cheers and boos for the former face of the Phillies' franchise as he trotted around the bases.

“[It was] different,” Hoskins said. “Normally, you go into a visiting ballpark and you hit a home run, you’re not hearing any cheers. The mix of boos and cheers was different; it was fun. But you don’t really hear a lot out there on the bases when you’re trotting around. I had a funny little moment with J.T. at the plate, then just right back into the game.”

Like Realmuto, Wheeler got the last laugh by picking up the victory after holding the Brewers to just the one run over seven innings.

“It was awesome; he deserves all that,” Wheeler said of Hoskins’ eventful night. “He was here through the tough times and the good times. It was very cool. That’s why this place is the best. They know when to cheer and when to boo.”