Hoskins hits 2 of Phillies' 4 big flies in win

Harper goes back-to-back with first baseman; Kingery in rare company with versatility

September 3rd, 2019

CINCINNATI – It could be the haircut, the spot in the lineup, the simplified approach or the law of averages. It could be every one of those things.

helped power the Phillies to a 7-1 victory over the Reds on Monday afternoon at Great American Ball Park, keeping them 2 1/2 games behind the Cubs for the second National League Wild Card with 26 games to play. He smacked a two-run home run to center field in the third inning and a solo homer to left-center field in the eighth. The homer in the eighth followed ’s 30th homer of the season. Hoskins’ and Harper’s big flies followed ’s two-run homer in the second.

“It's a really simple game, right?” Hoskins said. “We don't have to make it harder than it is on ourselves, on the mound, in the box, in the field. Just a simplification of the last 10 days or so. Obviously, it's good to get results right away from that. Makes it easier to trust, of course. But just sticking with that simplification of, I guess everything, really.”

But what does that mean, exactly?

“I guess just kind of taking your foot off the gas a little bit, almost trying to put the least amount of effort in that I can,” Hoskins said. “Obviously that's not going to happen in the game, right? Adrenaline goes, talent will take over, adrenaline takes over, and you often find that sweet spot. At least for me, I'm not a guy that can get riled up and swing as hard as I can. It just hasn't worked for me ever.”

Hoskins is batting .471 (8-for-17) with two doubles, one triple, two home runs, five RBIs and a 1.609 OPS in his past five games. He credited a fresh haircut for his two-hit effort Wednesday against Pittsburgh, which started his run, although it coincided with his return to the cleanup spot, where he has had the most success in his career. Hoskins hit .115 (10-for-87) with three doubles, two homers, five RBIs and a .522 OPS in his previous 25 games.

Hoskins said he has sought the counsel of several people over the past couple weeks, including new hitting coach Charlie Manuel, assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero, third-base coach Dusty Wathan and manager Gabe Kapler.

“Just kind of all of that combined,” Hoskins said, asked if he had received any magical words of advice.

Hoskins is a hitter that craves information. He watches video. He likes to know the tendencies of every pitcher he faces. was like that, too. He obsessively watched video. He spent the final three-plus seasons of his career with the Dodgers, who have a robust analytics department. He considered its information useful.

But a true balance is good. Utley certainly would agree with that.

“Obviously, we're still getting the information from other places in the organization,” Hoskins said about Manuel’s influence. “I still watch video. I still do the scouting reports that I've always done. Besides that, it's been great. It's been calming. I think there's an aura of confidence that he just carries because of: a) who he is; and b) the guy just loves hitting. I think that kind of resounds throughout this clubhouse.”

The Phillies are slashing .270/.344/486 and averaging 5.9 runs per game in their past 18 games since they named Manuel hitting coach. They slashed .245/.322/.417 and average 4.7 runs per game in their first 118.

The Phillies need that to continue. They got a solid effort Monday from left-hander , who allowed one run and struck out eight in 5 1/3 innings. The bullpen pitched well, including right-hander . But the Phils cannot count on that every night. More often than not, they will need Hoskins, Harper, Kingery, , and others to score runs in bunches.

Kingery is quietly having an impressive season. He became the seventh player in baseball history to have 50 extra-base hits in a season and play second base, third base, shortstop and each outfield position. He is the youngest of a group that includes Al Smith (1955), Felix Mantilla (‘64), (‘90), (‘98), (2009) and (‘19). He has started at four positions in the past eight games: center field, second base, third base and shortstop, where he started Monday, because is attending the funeral of his grandmother in the Dominican Republic.

“Coming into Spring Training, I knew things would be different,” Kingery said. “It was just a different feel, more confidence, having been through it before.”

Kingery joked that he barely had his eyes open when he homered. The Phillies arrived at their team hotel around 2 a.m. Monday, following Sunday night’s victory over the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. They were scheduled to play the Reds 12 hours later.

“We all know our backs are against the wall,” Kapler said. “To have our guys come out after a long night like last night and bring such strong energy … guys were really up from the first pitch of the game, and that speaks to the character of the guys in that room.”