There wasn’t much to like about the Phillies’ tough 7-6 loss in last night’s series opener between two of the National League’s top teams. A rough outing from Zach Eflin, more suspect defense, and a shaky bullpen overshadowed what could have been one of this season’s most memorable moments. Still, it remains an important one.
With the Phillies trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Rhys Hoskins stepped to the plate after Carlos Santana struck out, failing to drive in Jorge Alfaro from third base with only one out. In the sixth pitch of the at-bat, Hoskins took a hanging curveball from Dodgers starting pitcher Ross Stripling 401 feet into the left field seats for a game-tying three-run homer:
We celebrated the past tonight…
…but how about the present and future?!
Hoskins ties it with one swing of the bat! pic.twitter.com/T6XuifF11r
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) July 24, 2018
Hoskins’ blast sent a sudden jolt through a crowd that had grown increasingly quiet and brought the Phillies back to life in a game that seemed to be getting away from them only a moment earlier.
I often reference statistics, both traditional and advanced ones, when writing about baseball, but the numbers can’t quantify moments like this one. Am I encouraged that Hoskins has three homers since the All-Star Break? Yes. I’m also encouraged by his rising .839 OPS. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet this season, but I thought the most positive development from an otherwise disappointing Phillies evening was Hoskins rising to the occasion in a big moment. There’s a reason this town loves Chase Utley, and it’s not just about his productivity and dashing good looks, it’s that he often owned the key moments. The Phillies, with bullpen and lineup deficiencies, will need their best players like Hoskins, and Odubel Herrera, who gave the Phillies a temporary lead with a solo shot a batter later, to do exactly that.
This was something I planned to briefly write about today, so I was pleased when I saw this clip of Hoskins on MLB Network’s MLB Central this morning:
Keep bringing it. pic.twitter.com/ZEqNZtK87z
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) July 24, 2018
It’s fun. This is kind of my first taste at meaningful baseball in August. We’re about to be in August here and we’re sitting in first-place right now. It’s fun. The crowd was…last night…was the first time that I had felt that intensity at home. And that’s something that I never want to not feel again.
Those are the words of a guy that wants to win. A guy who gets it. So there’s something to feel good about from last night.