Phillies

Instant Replay: Phillies 3, Rockies 2

Instant Replay: Phillies 3, Rockies 2

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DENVER — Staring at another loss, their most heartbreaking yet on their current road trip, the Phillies rallied in the ninth Sunday afternoon off Rockies closer Greg Holland and won, 3-2, on Cameron Rupp’s two-run double.
 
The hit gave Rupp a measure of revenge since he was thrown out at the plate in the eighth and helped the Phillies break a five-game losing streak, all losses coming on this trip. The Phillies also had a runner thrown out at home in the ninth.

The Rockies went ahead 2-1 on a two-out double in the seventh by Charlie Blackmon, his third double of the game. The hit off Aaron Nola scored pinch hitter Raimel Tapia, who walked and stole second.

Odubel Herrera hustled a single into a double to open the ninth against Holland and moved to third on Maikel Franco’s single. Hyun Soo Kim hit a grounder to Story, who threw out Herrera at the plate, but Rupp followed with his two-run double to the gap in left-center, tagging Holland with just his second blown save in 36 chances.

Starting pitching report
Nola made his Coors Field debut and his first start against the Rockies. He gave the Phillies another outstanding outing, working seven innings. It was a welcome change for the Phillies in the wake of the problems starters Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez encountered in the first two games of this series.

But Rockies rookie starter Jeff Hoffman, who limited the Phillies to one run and three hits in seven innings May 22 at Citizens Bank Park, went toe-to-toe with Nola for seven innings. Hoffman allowed a second-inning homer to Maikel Franco, his 17th of the year. 

Nola gave up six hits and two runs in seven innings with two walks and seven strikeouts. In his past nine starts, Nola has a 1.76 ERA (12 earned runs, 61 1/3 innings) with 17 walks and 70 strikeouts.

Hoffman gave up four hits and one run in seven innings with one walk and eight strikeouts, one shy of his career-high. He had nine strikeouts June 4 at San Diego. The seven innings matched Hoffman’s season-high, but it was the first time in five starts he went that far.

Bullpen report
Hector Neris allowed a leadoff bunt single before picking up his 11th save.

At the plate
Hernandez has reached base safely at least twice in each of his past nine games. The last Phillies player to do that was Blanco from Aug. 16-26, 2015.

Franco hit his 17th home run.

In the field
Gonzalez took a broken-bat hit away from Nava to end the third with a lunging catch of his sinking liner.

Williams opened the fourth with a grounder that shortstop Story went far to his left to grab and then got Williams by making a 360-degree turn to get off a throw from well to the right of second base.

Galvis made a diving back-handed stop on the outfield grass of Arenado’s grounder. Arenado doesn’t run well, but he beat Galvis’ long throw.

Shortstop Story made a backhanded grab of Kim's grounder and with a long jump throw just got him at first.

After Blackmon put the Rockies ahead in the eighth, first baseman Nava made a diving stop of Parra's hard grounder and flipped to Nola at first to end the inning.

Lights out
Mark Leiter Jr. struck out nine batters without issuing a walk Saturday in 4⅓ innings of relief of starter Nick Pivetta. Leiter is the fourth pitcher over the past 40 years to strike out nine or more batters without issuing a walk in a relief appearance.

The others were Tom Gordon for the 1989 Kansas City Royals (10 strikeouts), Bruce Ruffin (9) for the 1993 Rockies and Mark Guthrie (12) for the 1995 Minnesota Twins. 

Much improved
Andrew Knapp caught a bullpen session, an indication his bruised right hand is improved and he’s nearing a return. Knapp was hit on the hand with a foul tip Thursday and didn’t play in the Rockies series. The Phillies recalled catcher Jorge Alfaro on Friday from Triple A Lehigh Valley when Knapp was unavailable.

Up next
The Phillies are off Monday and will conclude their eight-game road trip with a two-game series at Atlanta that begins Tuesday at 7:35 p.m. Julio Teheran (7-9, 5.10) will start for the Braves. The Phillies have not named their starter to take the turn of Jake Thompson, who was optioned to Triple A Lehigh Valley after his last start Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels.

Nick Williams talks up Phillies to a free-agent Cy Young winner

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Nick Williams talks up Phillies to a free-agent Cy Young winner

It's not clear whether the Phillies will add a starting pitcher before opening day, but surely they would like to.

General manager Matt Klentak “is busting his ass every single day looking for every possible opportunity to upgrade our team from every perspective,” manager Gabe Kapler said on Tuesday. “That includes looking at every option possible for the rotation.”

Klentak has kept a close eye on the trade market, but has found the prices (i.e., the young talent that must be surrendered) for top, controllable starters to be prohibitive.

He has kept a close eye on the free-agent market, but the length of contracts that top pitchers are looking for has given him pause.

For months, the Phillies have distanced themselves from speculation that has connected them to elite level free-agent pitchers Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta.

But with spring training less than a month away and both pitchers still unsigned, the Phillies would at least have to consider both pitchers if their asking prices experience a January thaw.

Six or seven years? No way.

Three years? Hmmm. Let's talk.

The Phillies are hosting a number of their young players this week. Rhys Hoskins, Jerad Eickhoff, Mark Leiter and Nick Williams were all in town on Tuesday.

Williams has set his sights on making the National League All-Star team in 2018.

“That's what I'm shooting for,” he said at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday. “I think I had a pretty good year last year. I'm shooting for more now. I don't think being an All-Star is shooting too high.”

Williams, 24, hit .288 with 12 homers, 55 RBIs and an .811 OPS in 83 games, mostly in right field, with the big club as a rookie last season.

To give himself the best chance of surpassing those numbers — and achieving his goal of making the All-Star team — Williams has spent the offseason in Austin, Texas, working with personal trainer Jeremy Hills, a former University of Texas football player.

Williams is working hard on agility, which will help him in the outfield and on the base paths.

And guess who one of his daily workout partners is?

Free-agent pitcher Jake Arrieta.

Back in Austin, between reps and protein shakes, Williams has occasionally talked up Philadelphia as a potential landing spot to Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner who will turn 32 in March.

“He loves it here,” Williams said of Arrieta, who, as a free agent and a Scott Boras client, is astute enough not to rule out any team, particularly one as deep-pocketed as the Phillies. “He has told me he likes working with young guys. I'm like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I'm not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I'm not really in his position.”

Williams smiled.

“I hope to be one day,” he said.

Williams marveled at Arrieta's work ethic in the gym.

And he expressed gratitude for the kindness and generosity Arrieta has showed him.

“He's bought a lot of my protein shakes,” Williams said.

Time will tell if the Phillies add a starting pitcher to the group that already consists of Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and other youngsters. The hunch is they will, though it's unclear what the magnitude of that talent will be. Klentak's search for an arm likely won't stop with the addition of one pitcher and it will likely continue through July. And beyond. The quest to build a championship-caliber staff never stops.

“The pursuit is very real,” Kapler said of Klentak's search for pitching. “I have a lot of trust that we'll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we're better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Rhys Hoskins on 'surreal' rookie year, position switch, expectations

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USA Today Images

Rhys Hoskins on 'surreal' rookie year, position switch, expectations

For a couple of weeks in August, Rhys Hoskins might have been Philadelphia's most popular athlete. Fans marveled at the nightly power display that the young slugger put on in the middle of the Phillies' batting order. Carson Wentz and the Eagles had not yet begun their magnificent season. Hoskins was the man in town.

It hit him one night after a game. He stopped in Center City for some late-night eats. A man and his young son approached. They offered their congratulations and asked for an autograph.

"That's when I was like, 'OK, this might be something that's about to be part of my life,' " Hoskins said. "But it was cool because I used to be that kid."

Hoskins was back in the area Monday night for the 114th Philadelphia Sports Writers Association Dinner. He was honored with a special achievement award for a torrid major league debut in which he clubbed 18 homers and drove in 48 runs in just 50 games last season.

Hoskins was raised in Sacramento, California but moved to San Diego this offseason. His 18 homers in 2017 were the most ever hit by a player who did not make his season debut until after Aug. 1. Hall of Famer Ted Williams, who hit 13 homers after returning from the Korean War in 1953, was the previous record holder.

Williams was a San Diego native.

"Surreal," Hoskins said of that 50-game stretch last season and the buzz that has followed him into the offseason. "Indescribable."

He is now a recognizable face, a signature talent, in a sports-crazy town.

And he's ready for it.

"Enjoy it," he said. "Take it by storm and enjoy it. It's supposed to be fun and that's probably the best approach to take. I think my thought is what happened may never happen again. Tomorrow something might happen. Tomorrow I might never be able to step on a baseball field again. So I think you have to take it by storm and enjoy it.

"If you had asked me a year ago if I would be walking down the streets of Philadelphia and would people recognize me I'd probably laugh at you. But that’s where we are now.

"It's just a testament to how passionate the people of Philadelphia are and how much they love their sports."

Hoskins will report to Clearwater for spring training at the end of this month. He wants to get a head start so he can ramp up his workouts in left field. A first baseman by trade, he began playing the position occasionally last season. He will move there full-time in 2018 as newly signed Carlos Santana takes over at first base.

Hoskins got a 30-game taste of left field last year. He is OK with the move.

"Having Carlos is exciting for the city and exciting for the team," Hoskins said. "We add a guy who has proven himself in this league for five or six years at a very high level so to kind of insert that into the lineup and into the clubhouse, especially with such a young team — I think we're going to feel that exponentially throughout the year.

"Left field is a challenge. It's a challenge that I'm definitely excited about. I started to feel more comfortable out there toward the end of the year.

"I think I can be just fine out there. I'm not necessarily going to be a Gold Glover. I just don’t have the speed that some guys out there do, especially in today's game. But I think I'll be just fine and contribute to the team defensively as much as I can and make the plays that I'm supposed to."

Hoskins will turn 25 on March 17. He projects to bat cleanup in new manager Gabe Kapler's lineup.

"He's energized, intense and thorough," Hoskins said of the new skipper. "He can captivate a room. I'm curious to see how that dynamic works in the clubhouse. I think he's going to be a pretty exciting guy to work with."