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Hoskins shakes off skid as Phils take series

First baseman triples, doubles after costly error Tuesday; Realmuto, Dickerson hit blasts
@ToddZolecki
August 28, 2019

PHILADELPHIA – The Phillies believe Rhys Hoskins can slug his way out of a slump. Maybe Wednesday was the beginning of that. Hoskins doubled, tripled, walked and scored twice in the Phillies’ 12-3 victory over the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park, helping the Phils win the series and remain two

PHILADELPHIA – The Phillies believe Rhys Hoskins can slug his way out of a slump. Maybe Wednesday was the beginning of that.

Hoskins doubled, tripled, walked and scored twice in the Phillies’ 12-3 victory over the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park, helping the Phils win the series and remain two games behind the Cubs for the second National League Wild Card.

Box score

It is a welcome sign for a team that needs one of its best hitters to catch fire the final month of the season. If Hoskins barrels more baseballs, he will join an improving Phillies offense that is slashing .272/.350/.489 and averaging 6.2 runs per game since the club named Charlie Manuel as its hitting coach on Aug. 13. The offense slashed .245/.322/.417 and averaged 4.7 runs per game over the first 118 games.

“I was joking with someone that the only thing I did different today was get a haircut,” Hoskins said.

Phils manager Gabe Kapler contemplated giving Hoskins a break on Wednesday, following the ninth-inning error he made Tuesday to allow the winning run to score in a loss to the Bucs, plus his .544 OPS in 109 plate appearances this month.

But Hoskins told Kapler that he preferred to play, so he played.

The first baseman ripped a 3-1 fastball from Pirates right-hander Mitch Keller off the right-field wall for a triple in the second inning. Hoskins scored on Cesar Hernandez’s single to left-center field to hand the Phillies a 1-0 lead. Hoskins hit a 0-1 slider down the left-field line for a double to score Bryce Harper from first base in the second inning to make it 3-0.

Baseball rolls and rolls on outfield fence

“I thought he made good decisions,” Kapler said. “It seemed like he was on the fastball all night. The other thing I noticed is how relaxed his body language was and his facial expressions were when he was up to the plate, particularly when he got to two strikes.”

It was Hoskins’ first multihit game since July 24, and it was his first game with two or more extra-base hits since July 13.

“I think I was a little bit more narrow at the plate, almost trying to swing 80 percent,” Hoskins said. “I really tried to be boring in BP the last week or so, and I think tonight was the night it seemed to click in the game.”

Narrow?

“Just with my stance. Just trying to really control the weight distribution in my legs and feel as in control in there as possible,” he said.

Hoskins said an 80-percent swing helps him know where the barrel of the bat is.

“There [are] some guys in this clubhouse and across the league who can swing as hard as they can and still know where that is,” he said. “I’ve found out in my short career that that’s usually not the case. I really tried to throttle down even more than usual, and it got me back to where I need to be.”

Hoskins hit fourth in Philadelphia's lineup. He had been hitting first recently with the hope that he could see more pitches and maybe get rolling that way. But Kapler dropped Hoskins into the cleanup spot, where he has experienced the most success in his career. In fact, Hoskins’ .959 OPS batting fourth is his best production anywhere in the lineup.

Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez allowed two runs in five innings to earn the win. Corey Dickerson and J.T. Realmuto each homered.

Harper, Dickerson and Realmuto have been swinging hot bats lately. Harper is batting .289 with 10 homers, 22 RBIs and a 1.084 OPS in his last 20 games. Dickerson is batting .344 with two homers, 13 RBIs and a 1.082 OPS in his last seven. Realmuto is batting .330 with eight homers, 23 RBIs and a 1.062 OPS in his last 29.

Imagine if Hoskins got hot.

“We’re getting contributions from a lot of guys,” Hoskins said. “Obviously, J.T. has been pretty steady Eddie for the last few weeks. We’re getting contributions from a lot of other guys throughout the whole lineup and off the bench as well. Usually, good things happen when you’re not relying on one or two guys every night. It takes the pressure off a lot of the other guys and you can just go do your thing.”

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