CINCINNATI -- The Phillies believe. They think Philadelphia is starting to believe, too.The Phillies smashed a franchise-record seven home runs in Thursday night's 9-4 victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Rhys Hoskins, Maikel Franco and Nick Williams each homered twice. Carlos Santana homered once.It tied a team
CINCINNATI -- The Phillies believe. They think Philadelphia is starting to believe, too.
The Phillies smashed a franchise-record seven home runs in Thursday night's 9-4 victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Rhys Hoskins, Maikel Franco and Nick Williams each homered twice. Carlos Santana homered once.
It tied a team mark set on Sept. 8, 1998, when the Phillies homered seven times against the Mets. Rico Brogna, Kevin Sefcik and Bobby Estalella each homered twice in that game, the only other time in franchise history three Phillies went deep twice in the same game. It is also the first time three teammates have homered twice in the same game since Boston's Jason Varitek, David Ortiz and Bill Mueller did it against the Yankees on July 4, 2003.
"It feels like we're kids at recess right now," Williams said.
The Phillies have won five of their first seven games following the All-Star break to take a 2 1/2-game lead over the Braves and maintain a seven-game lead over the Nationals in the National League East. Two of those five wins came this week against the Dodgers, who entered the season with legitimate World Series aspirations.
It is why Hoskins felt compelled on Wednesday afternoon to tweet, "Start believin' #BeBold."
"It's getting into August," Hoskins said. "It's meaningful baseball. We're a confident bunch, and I think we're showing it."
"I saw that tweet and I saw the hashtag," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "What that told me is that that clubhouse -- because Rhys is just a representation of the clubhouse -- is especially confident. They believe. The field staff has continued to believe, and I think the city of Philadelphia is definitely beginning to believe as well."
The Phillies are beginning to believe in the recent performance of Franco and Williams, too. And that could shape the Phillies' thinking as Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches. Franco lost his job and regular playing time in mid-June, only to slide back into the role once J.P. Crawford broke his left hand on June 20.
Franco has hit .344 with eight home runs, 16 RBIs and a 1.055 OPS in 103 plate appearances since then. He is on fire.
"I'm on fire?" Franco said.
"I'm not taking it for granted," Franco said.
But at one time, third basemen like Mike Moustakas, Adrian Beltre and Josh Donaldson made a lot of sense for the Phillies.
The Phillies also had some of the worst production in the Majors in right field. Williams had been banished to the bench early this season. But since his batting average dipped to .190 on May 5, he has hit .280 with 13 home runs, 35 RBIs and an .872 OPS in 231 plate appearances. The Phillies now seem more likely to let Williams play and look for a complementary fourth outfielder to bolster the bench. Sources told MLB.com that the Phillies are interested in Orioles center fielder Adam Jones. He has full no-trade rights, but he said Thursday that he is willing to move to a corner outfield position and play in a reserve role if he has a chance to win.
Philly could be that place.
"I've talked about the talent of our team, the true talent, and not getting caught up in these two-week stretches," Kapler said. "So whenever our offense is struggling for a couple of weeks, or our bullpen is struggling for a couple of weeks, we try to remember the true talent of our club, and the true talent of our club is what is showing right now."
SPOTLIGHT ON PROSPECT
Phillies left-hander Ranger Suarez allowed four runs in five-plus innings in winning his big league debut. Suarez, who is the organization's No. 8 prospect per MLB Pipeline, allowed a two-run homer to Eugenio Suarez in the first and a two-run homer to Tucker Barnhart in the fourth. The Phillies optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after the game. More >
The Phillies made Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle throw 45 pitches in the first inning. He lasted just one more batter in the second before leaving the game. It sets up the Phillies well for the final three games in this series.
"Obviously our guys are swinging the bat great, but it was more of the Phillies' style of offense we talk about, working deep counts, and in particular in that first inning," Kapler said. "We saw 45 pitches in the first inning -- spectacular job. Even as the game went on, spectacular job of grinding at-bats."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Williams hit the Phillies' hardest and longest homer of the night in the ninth inning, when his solo shot left his bat at 109.7 mph and traveled a projected 431 feet, according to Statcast™.
HE SAID IT
"He came up as a good, young hitter. Maybe lost his way a little while, but he's a threat. I tell you, every time he comes up there, he's getting after it." -- Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman, on Franco
Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta (6-8, 4.69 ERA) faces Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (4-3, 5.40 ERA) on Friday night in the second game of a four-game series at Great American Ball Park. Pivetta is 2-2 with a 7.17 ERA in his last five starts, pitching only 21 1/3 innings during that stretch. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.