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High heat in 9th inning angers Hoskins, Phillies

'He just said they were trying to go inside, and I laughed'
@ToddZolecki
April 23, 2019

NEW YORK -- It took a fastball over Rhys Hoskins' head in the ninth inning Tuesday night for the Phillies to show their first signs of life in a few days. Maybe it leads to something. The Phillies looked listless again in a 9-0 loss to the Mets at Citi

NEW YORK -- It took a fastball over Rhys Hoskins' head in the ninth inning Tuesday night for the Phillies to show their first signs of life in a few days. Maybe it leads to something.

The Phillies looked listless again in a 9-0 loss to the Mets at Citi Field. It followed Monday's 5-1 loss to the Mets and Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Rockies. Phillies right-hander Jake Arrieta said Monday that they were not ready to play their division rival. He called the Phillies "flat." Phillies manager Gabe Kapler concurred Tuesday, saying they had been flat for a couple of days.

The Phillies fared no better Tuesday. Right-hander Zach Eflin allowed two hits to Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler, including a two-out, two-run double on a first-pitch slider in the second inning and a two-out solo home run on a first-pitch fastball in the fourth. Wheeler also struck out 11 batters in seven innings. Cesar Hernandez let a ground ball roll between his legs that allowed the Mets' third run to score in the second.

Maikel Franco was thrown out at home plate by at least 15 feet to end the fourth. Drew Anderson allowed a grand slam to Todd Frazier in the fifth.

"If we want to meet the expectations that we all have for this team, we have to play better baseball than that," Kapler said.

But then Mets right-hander Jacob Rhame sailed a first-pitch fastball over Hoskins' head with two outs in the ninth. The fastball registered 97 mph.

Hoskins took a step toward the mound. Both dugouts and bullpens began to empty onto the field, but the situation never escalated. Home-plate umpire Scott Barry issued warnings to both teams.

"We're trying to pound him in," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "I guess he didn't like one sailing over his head. I probably wouldn't, either."

The Phillies were not buying it. Phillies left-hander Jose Alvarez hit Jeff McNeil with a pitch to load the bases in the seventh inning Monday. Right-hander Juan Nicasio entered the game and hit Pete Alonso with a pitch to force home a run. The Phillies have a hunch those plate appearances fueled Rhame's plan of attack for Hoskins in the ninth.

"He didn't miss up and in the rest of the inning, so I'll let you decide," Hoskins said.

"When you accidentally sail one, it's probably pretty scary," Rhame said. "I'd get [angry], too."

Hoskins broke his jaw when he fouled a pitch off his face last season. He has had other pitches near his head this year.

"I would assume teams are pitching me in because that's where they think they can get me out, and that's fine," he said. "That's part of the game. Again, I think most guys are capable of pitching inside and not missing that bad."

Rhame walked Hoskins on six pitches. Each ball was high and inside. The fourth pitch came close to Hoskins' head. It registered 98 mph.

"I was just trying to work inside," Rhame said. "Historically, I've left a lot of balls over the plate, guys have been diving. So I've got to try to get better at my game, too."

Hoskins chucked his bat back toward the Phillies' dugout. He had a few words for Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud as he walked to first base.

"Oh, he just said they were trying to go inside, and I laughed," Hoskins said.

Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper has been drilled a few times in his career. He got into a memorable brawl with Giants right-hander Hunter Strickland in San Francisco in May 2017. Remember that one? Harper fired his helmet at Strickland as he charged the mound.

"I don't get it," Harper said. "I understand that two of their guys got hit yesterday. But, I mean, if it's baseball and you're going to drill somebody, at least hit him in the [butt]. Not in the head. You throw 98, it's scary now. You could kill somebody. Lose your eyesight. That's bigger than the game.

"Strick hit me. He hit me in the butt. I still went and got him. But, you know, I respected him for it because he hit me in the butt. Like I said, I understand protecting your guys and two of their really good guys got hit yesterday. You never want to see your star players get hit. If you're going to throw at Rhys right there -- I don't know if he did or not. I know he said, 'My bad.' Stuff like that. Hopefully he didn't. But, if you're going to, just hit him in the butt."

It is impossible to say if this is something that could snap the Phillies from their recent doldrums. The better antidote is probably Mets left-hander Jason Vargas, who pitches Wednesday night. He has a 9.58 ERA in four appearances.

But maybe the Phillies also head to the ballpark with a chip on their shoulder.

"Big game tomorrow," Hoskins said.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .