PHILADELPHIA -- The computers say Nick Williams is a notorious first-pitch swinger.He swung at a healthy 48.1 percent of first pitches last season, which ranked third out of 288 batters in baseball (minimum 300 plate appearances). He swung at 8 of 16 first pitches this season, too. It is no
PHILADELPHIA -- The computers say Nick Williams is a notorious first-pitch swinger.
He swung at a healthy 48.1 percent of first pitches last season, which ranked third out of 288 batters in baseball (minimum 300 plate appearances). He swung at 8 of 16 first pitches this season, too. It is no surprise then that Reds reliever Kevin Quackenbush threw Williams a first-pitch breaking ball out of the zone in the eighth inning in the Phillies' 6-5 victory Monday night at Citizens Bank Park.
Quackenbush wanted Williams to chase a bad pitch.
Williams did not take the bait. He took that first pitch and worked himself into a 3-1 count, before crushing a fastball to right-center-field for a pinch-hit solo home run that untied the game and gave the Phillies the lead for good. It was the first pinch-hit homer of Williams' career.
"I've been trying to work the counts and just stay with my approach," Williams said. "I think that's helped along those lines. I was comfortable. I saw the first pitch going down instantly and said, 'OK, wow.' Stuck with my approach and it shows what happens when you do that."
"One of the things we're seeing with Nick is a little more patience," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said.
Williams made some noise late last week when he became the latest Phillies player to express his frustrations about not being in the lineup. He was diplomatic Monday, saying it is not on his mind.
"I'm not thinking about that," he said. "I'm confident in my approach and my abilities to go out there and compete. At the same time, I just want to win and do whatever I can with the opportunities I get to help the team win."
Since starting the season 1-for-11 at the plate, Williams has gone 3-for-6.
"I started off slow, but I start off slow every year in my career," he said. "I'm kind of used to it by now. [The homer] felt good. I felt good at the plate seeing the first few pitches. I felt like I was going to do damage."
Phillies closer Hector Neris picked up his first save of the season with a scoreless ninth. He has converted 21 consecutive save opportunities dating back to June 28, 2017. He has a 1.31 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings in those opportunities.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hoskins, Kingery batter Reed: Phillies left fielder Rhys Hoskins hit a two-out, two-run home run to left field in the first inning against Reed to hand the Phillies a 2-1 lead. Rookie Scott Kingery followed with a solo home run to left in the second, his first Major League home run, to make it 3-1. Kingery hit a 1-0 fastball a little less than 15 inches (1.22 feet) off the ground. No Phillies player had hit a ball lower off the ground since Odubel Herrera hit one less than 9 inches (0.73 feet) from the dirt last August. More >
Ervin scores, Hamilton does not:Phillip Ervin started the sixth inning with a single to left field. He then stole second to put himself in scoring position. Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro actually threw a rocket to second base -- Statcast™ clocked the throw at 86.0 mph -- but Kingery got to the bag late and had no chance to tag him. It proved costly as Ervin later scored on a two-out chopper off Phillies pitcher Ben Lively's fingers to tie the game, 5-5. Alfaro enjoyed some redemption late in the inning when Hamilton tried to score from second on a wild pitch. Alfaro slid to retrieve the ball behind the plate and threw a strike to Adam Morgan, who held onto the ball as Hamilton collided with him for the third out.
"He's just the kind of guy you can ride. He's dependable. He's fiery. He's aggressive. He's competitive. It's why we bet on him. He attacks the strike zone. He works fast. He keeps defenders on their toes. If a guy works fast, it makes hitters uncomfortable." -- Kapler, on having Lively start the sixth inning. Lively allowed nine hits, five runs, two walks and struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Carlos Santana crushed the baseball on Monday, but had little to show for it. He ripped a double to left-center-field in the third inning to score Cesar Hernandez to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead. The ball left his bat at 106.4 mph with a hit probability of 79 percent, according to Statcast™. But Santana flied out to Billy Hamilton in center field in the fifth and seventh innings. The ball in the fifth left Santana's bat at 104.7 mph with a hit probability of 92 percent. The ball in the seventh left his bat at 105.3 mph with a hit probability of 74 percent.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Maikel Franco's sacrifice fly to center field scored Santana in the third inning to hand the Phillies a 5-3 lead. Hoskins tagged from second and advanced to third on the play, with Hamilton's throw almost beating him to the bag. The Reds challenged the play at third, thinking Cliff Pennington might have tagged Hoskins first. The play stood as called.
It would have been a killer for the Phillies if it had been overturned, because it did not look like Santana touched home plate before the tag.
Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola (0-0, 2.61 ERA) faces the Reds on Tuesday night in the second game of three-game series at Citizens Bank Park at 7:05 ET. Nola, who has been the team's best starter through two turns in the rotation, threw a season-high 87 pitches last week against the Mets.
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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.