PHILADELPHIA -- Rhys Hoskins’ first taste of postseason baseball hadn’t gone the way he had envisioned.
He was 1-for-18 with six strikeouts through his first four postseason games and had misplayed a ball at first base in the sixth inning of Wednesday night's Game 2 of the National League Division Series that led to Philadelphia's only playoff loss thus far. Hoskins even heard a smattering of boos when he was introduced for his home postseason debut prior to Friday's Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park. Those boos grew louder after his first-inning strikeout, and again after failing to scoop a low throw from Alec Bohm in the top of the third.
"I guarantee if you ask him, he doesn’t even remember doing that,” teammate Nick Castellanos said of Hoskins’ bat spike. “There was no thought behind doing that, just genuine emotion."
“I didn't know what I did until a couple innings later, really. It's just something that came out, just raw,” Hoskins said. “But God, it was fun.”
Nobody had a better view of it than J.T. Realmuto, who was in the on-deck circle.
“Watching his reaction, there’s definitely some pent-up frustration in that swing and that reaction,” Realmuto said. “As much as we try not to pay attention to that stuff, it’s impossible not to -- and he responded just like we expect him to. He came up huge for us. He won the ballgame for us with that swing.”
Added manager Rob Thomson: “He's hit a lot of big homers here, and he's taken a lot of grief since the last game we played, just because of the [misplay]. I'm so happy for him.”
Hoskins brushed off the notion that his recent play or the negative reception from the fans provided any extra motivation -- “If we're at this point and you need something to fuel you, you’re probably not in a good position” -- but he acknowledged the Braves may have tossed a little fuel on the fire, nonetheless.
With Bryson Stott on second base and one out, Atlanta opted to intentionally walk Kyle Schwarber -- who was 0-for-17 with nine strikeouts in the postseason to that point -- to get to Hoskins.
“They're obviously telling me something right away, before I even step in the box,” Hoskins said. “So I'm ready to compete. And I think when you light a little bit of a fire under somebody, [you] tend to hone in and focus a little bit more. And I just didn't miss.”
Hoskins unloaded on a first-pitch fastball from starter Spencer Strider, launching a three-run homer that jumped off the bat at 107.3 mph, per Statcast. The Phillies’ first postseason homer at Citizens Bank Park since Raul Ibanez's blast in Game 1 of the 2011 NLDS sent the home crowd into a frenzy -- but that celebration paled in comparison to the one on the field.
The moment the ball left Hoskins' bat, he stared into the Phillies' first-base dugout and lifted both hands in the air before spiking his bat into the dirt. He then took off in a sprint around the bases before being mobbed by teammates outside the dugout.
“It blew the roof off of our park, metaphorically,” Realmuto said. “It was incredible. The stadium went wild. That’s what he’s here to do. He’s our guy who comes up big in spots like that, and he did tonight.”
Hoskins' first career postseason homer ignited a six-run third inning that also featured a two-run homer by Bryce Harper that left his bat at 108.4 mph and traveled a projected 401 feet into the right-center-field seats.
“I got chills sitting here thinking about it again,” Harper said of Hoskins’ homer. “But it's a really cool moment. Just really cool to be part of it.”
Hoskins also found himself at the center of the Phillies’ other rally on Friday. He worked a seven-pitch walk -- his first of the postseason -- to help set the table for a three-run seventh that slammed the door on a potential Atlanta comeback.
Hoskins is confident that one emotion-filled swing can be the turning point for his entire postseason.
"I just think it's crazy how one swing of the bat can change it, for good or for bad,” Hoskins said. “Obviously, tonight was on the good side. But I think it just goes for everybody that's playing right now -- either you're one swing away or one pitch away.”
Or perhaps even one epic bat spike away.