PHILADELPHIA -- Gabe Kapler got to see a couple things on Tuesday, other than the Phillies scoring 10 runs in the first inning of a 14-3 victory over the Mets at Citizens Bank Park.
Kingery went 3-for-4 with a double, home run and a career-high five RBIs. He is batting .647 (11-for-17) with four doubles, one home run and five RBIs in his last seven games. It is a small sample size, but Kingery is earning more playing time.
“Absolutely,” Kapler said. “It’s because of the all-around game. Obviously, he’s not going to hit .500 all season long. I can almost guarantee it. But what we can bank on is that he’s probably going to have better at-bats than he did last year, he’s going to play good defense wherever we put him, he’s going to run the bases hard, he’s going to be a professional and a great teammate. For all of those reasons, yeah, it’s getting more and more difficult to not have him in the lineup.”
Shortstop Jean Segura left the game after the first inning with a “mild” left hamstring strain. If he cannot play over the next few days, Kingery will be the shortstop. But even if Segura is OK, Kingery has earned a spot somewhere. He started at third base on Tuesday because Maikel Franco needed to play first while Rhys Hoskins rested his sprained left ankle.
Kapler said Kingery would have started in center field if Hoskins had been OK.
So what’s the difference between Kingery this season and last? He said it is a different mindset, along with some minor mechanical changes to his swing.
“Just being more aggressive no matter what the count is,” he said. “I think just being able to go in there and know that I’m able to handle every pitch that’s in a zone and put a good swing on it.”
And the swing?
“Flatter, I guess,” he said.
Eickhoff pitched four scoreless innings in relief after the Phillies recalled him from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He allowed three hits and struck out six. He got 11 swings and misses on 59 pitches, including five on sliders and five on curveballs.
“He’s off barrels, he induces weak contact, he gets swings and misses,” Kapler said. “It’s not 97 [mph], but it’s a slider that makes hitters uncomfortable and it’s a curveball that makes lefties and righties uncomfortable. We saw him go through some pretty good hitters tonight. Certainly considering finding ways to get him more innings.”
“Believe it or not I felt like [the curve] could have been a little better, as crazy as that sounds,” Eickhoff said. “But it looked like a strike for a long period of time, and then it wasn't. Any time you can do that it's going to be a plus-pitch."
Eickhoff followed Nick Pivetta, who allowed three runs on seven hits, three walks and two home runs in five innings. He threw 100 pitches and struck out two. Pivetta is 2-1 with an 8.35 ERA through four starts.
“I feel like I turned the page,” Pivetta said. “I wasn’t quite there. I would like to have gone seven, it would have been nice. But Eick came in and pitched a tremendous game. He was lights out for four innings.”
The Phillies remain believers in Pivetta’s talent and stuff, but Eickhoff’s performance not only could push Pivetta, but anybody in the rotation other than Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta.
“Nick didn’t have one really easy inning, but he was able to grind through five for us,” Kapler said. “We saw flashes of a little bit better curveball. We saw flashes of being in the zone with his fastball more and a little bit more attack. It wasn’t a great outing, but it was an improvement.”