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'Barreldelphia' only needed one Rhys swing 

Hoskins' homer off Berrios gives Eflin just enough support
@ToddZolecki
April 7, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- Rhys Hoskins dissected the moments that led to his game-winning, two-run home run in the sixth inning Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. He sported a red T-shirt in the Phillies’ clubhouse with “Barreldelphia” in Phillies-style script over a blue silhouette of Philadelphia’s skyline. “Barreldelphia” is becoming a

PHILADELPHIA -- Rhys Hoskins dissected the moments that led to his game-winning, two-run home run in the sixth inning Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. He sported a red T-shirt in the Phillies’ clubhouse with “Barreldelphia” in Phillies-style script over a blue silhouette of Philadelphia’s skyline.

“Barreldelphia” is becoming a thing. Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp coined the word in a tweet following an 8-6 victory over the Braves on March 30. Teammate Jake Arrieta made up T-shirts.

But the barrels were difficult to find in a 2-1 victory over the Twins, moving the Phillies to 6-2, although it made Sunday’s victory more rewarding. The Phillies have been bashing pitchers through the season’s first eight games, but Sunday they needed to find a different way to win. Twins right-hander Jose Berrios avoided barrels throughout the afternoon. In fact, the average exit velocity on the Phillies’ 13 balls in play against him registered a mere 72.4 mph.

It was the lowest average exit velocity the Phillies have had against any starting pitcher in any game since Statcast began tracking in 2015.

The Phillies were undaunted.

“We kind of stay with a plan,” Hoskins said. “It didn't work obviously the first five or six innings, but we're a stubborn bunch. We stuck with the plan and finally got something to hit."

To get to the point that made Hoskins’ nine-pitch plate appearance in the sixth matter, the Phillies needed right-hander Zach Eflin to pitch efficiently and effectively. He allowed six hits and one run in seven innings. He struck out five. He threw 105 pitches. They needed David Robertson, Adam Morgan and Hector Neris to pitch two scoreless innings in relief. They needed Phillies left fielder Andrew McCutchen to throw out Marwin Gonzalez at the plate in the fourth to keep another run off the board.

“We proved that we don’t have to just see a lot of pitches and score a lot of runs with a very potent lineup to win a baseball game,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said.

Eflin allowed a leadoff homer to Max Kepler in the first inning, but he pretty much cruised the rest of the way.

“It was what I’ve been wanting my whole career to be able to go as long as I can, especially when you’re at 90-plus pitches after six innings,” Eflin said. “To have that kind of confidence in me is huge. And I was ready to go however long he wanted me to go, so it was definitely good.”

McCutchen worked a leadoff walk in the sixth, then advanced to third on a heads-up baserunning play when nobody was covering on a fielder’s choice. Hoskins worked a full count, then fouled off three consecutive pitches.

Berrios threw Hoskins a curveball. He did not miss.

“I was able to get the barrel to the ball,” Hoskins said. “He had been throwing a lot of breaking balls all day. Obviously, I had some pretty bad swings against him. It's his best pitch in the biggest spot of the game. He just got too much of the plate. I think in that situation a pitcher tends to go to his best pitch and rightly so, it's a pretty good one."

The ball left Hoskins’ bat at 99.2 mph and landed in the flower beds in left-center field, just a few feet out of reach of Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario and center fielder Byron Buxton.

“I actually thought Buxton caught it,” Hoskins said. “That's what Buxton does, flying all over the place, super good athlete. I saw him stick his foot in the wall and get his glove above the fence. I thought 'Oh my god, did he just make that play?' But it was too far out of his reach and we had the lead.”

He said it

Kapler likes what he sees from Eflin, who is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA after two starts.

“If he’s pitching at this kind of level, then we have one near Cy Young Award winner [Aaron Nola], the second guy is a Cy Young Award winner [Jake Arrieta]. … If [Eflin is] pitching like he’s pitching right now, which is as good as anybody in either league, then it would mean that we have three potential Cy Young award winners.”

Neris in the ninth

Neris earned the Phillies’ first save of the season, pitching a scoreless ninth. His strong outing followed a second consecutive rocky performance on Saturday from Seranthony Dominguez.

“I love the end of the game, no matter what,” Neris said. “I love being on the mound. I love pitching. I like seeing the faces on my team when they win. I love that.”

Robertson, who struggled in his first three appearances, followed a scoreless ninth inning Friday with two-thirds of a scoreless inning in the eighth. Morgan recorded the third out in the eighth.

“We used D-Rob,” Kapler said, explaining his decision to use Neris in the ninth. “We wanted to give Seranthony an opportunity to collect himself and [Pat] Neshek was down. Hector, we know. We start our game plan with, ‘We can get strikeouts with Hector.’ So if the game is very, very close we have a lot of confidence that he can come in and get swings and misses.”

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