phillies game notes

Phillies-Dodgers thoughts: Rhys Hoskins refuses to go into a slump

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USA Today Images

Phillies-Dodgers thoughts: Rhys Hoskins refuses to go into a slump

Phillies (60-91) vs. Dodgers (96-55)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

Well, this series hasn't gone as planned.

Despite facing Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish, the Phillies have beaten the Dodgers on back-to-back nights to force at least a split. 

For L.A., it continues a miserable four-week stretch. The Dodgers were 91-36 on Aug. 25 and have gone 4-19 since.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are 31-33 since the All-Star break and 17-14 since Aug. 6.

More on tonight's game and the series in general:

• Last night was yet another fantastic game for Rhys Hoskins, who hit the game-deciding three-run double, drove in four runs in all and reached base three times. 

It appeared Hoskins was going into a slump after he went 0 for 11 with six strikeouts against the Athletics this past weekend, but he's responded by reaching base in five of seven plate appearances against the Dodgers. 

Through 39 games, Hoskins has hit .299/.428/.739 with five doubles, 18 homers and 43 RBIs. He has 29 walks and 33 strikeouts.

Odubel Herrera hit his 40th double of the season last night, becoming the first Phillie since Jayson Werth in 2010 to reach 40. 

The Phils had just one player hit 40 doubles in 2008 (Chase Utley), 2009 (Jimmy Rollins) and 2010 (Werth) and then none from 2011-16.

• Another scoreless inning last night from Luis Garcia, who's allowed one run in his last 18 appearances and has a 2.43 ERA in 61 games.

Nick Williams picked up his 11th infield single of the season last night. That kind of speed will allow him to maintain a higher batting average on balls in play than most players (see story).

• The Phillies face left-hander Alex Wood, who's had a career year. Wood is 15-3 with a 2.69 ERA in 140⅓ innings this season, with 144 strikeouts, 37 walks and just 13 home runs allowed. 

Lefties and righties alike have struggled against Wood, but he's been much more hittable since the All-Star break. Wood had a 1.56 ERA in the first half and has a 4.07 ERA since.

In his last start, Wood shut out the Nationals over six innings with eight strikeouts. In his previous three starts, he allowed 12 runs and six homers in 17 innings.

• Two Phillies, in particular, have seen Wood well: Freddy Galvis is 7 for 13 with a double; Cesar Hernandez is 5 for 11 with a double and three walks. 

Jake Thompson starts for the Phillies. He's 2-2 with a 4.46 ERA in nine games (six starts). He put 10 Marlins on base in 5⅓ innings in his last start but didn't allow a run.

• The Phillies would need to go 2-9 or worse the rest of the way to reach 100 losses. If the season ended today they'd pick second in the 2018 draft. The Giants are 1½ games worse.

Phillies-Dodgers thoughts: Kershaw, Darvish on tap for Phils' young bats

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USA Today Images/CSN

Phillies-Dodgers thoughts: Kershaw, Darvish on tap for Phils' young bats

Phillies (58-91) vs. Dodgers (96-53)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

On a light night in baseball — only seven games tonight — the Phillies welcome the MLB-best Dodgers to Citizens Bank Park to open a four-game series.

With 13 games remaining, the Dodgers are six games ahead of the Nationals for home-field advantage in the NL playoffs, so these games matter for L.A.

Let's take a look at Game 1:

• The Dodgers were 91-36 on Aug. 25, a 116-win pace. Then in the most improbable of turns, they lost 16 of 17 games. Dave Roberts' club appears to now be back on track, having won four of the last five, including a series win over the weekend in Washington.

• This will be a very interesting four-game series for the Phillies' young hitters. Tonight, they'll face Clayton Kershaw (17-3, 2.12), the best pitcher in baseball. 

Tuesday night, they get Yu Darvish (9-12, 4.08), who's having a disappointing season but is still one of the toughest right-handers to face. Only 10 starting pitchers have a higher strikeout rate than Darvish (9.96 per nine), and he's coming off seven shutout innings.

On Wednesday, the Phils face Alex Wood (15-3, 2.69), a finesse-based lefty having a career year.

These next three games will be among the toughest Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford and Jorge Alfaro have played. The Phils are obviously not expected to win this series, but a few successful nights from these rookies could build some major confidence moving forward.

• For the first time since his 0-for-12 start, Hoskins is in a slump of sorts. He went 0 for 11 with six strikeouts and a walk against the A's over the weekend. Don't be shocked if he sits Tuesday night against Darvish. Since coming up on Aug. 10, Hoskins has started 37 of 38 games.

The numbers, of course, are still ridiculous. Through 159 plate appearances, Hoskins is hitting .287/.415/.736 with 18 homers and 39 RBIs. 

Against lefties, Hoskins is 6 for 28 and all six hits have been home runs.

• Kershaw missed nearly six weeks with a back strain, which was the only thing that could have prevented him from claiming his fourth Cy Young award in seven years. He was on such a roll before the injury that he still leads the majors with 17 wins despite missing seven or eight starts.

Kershaw still might be the Cy Young frontrunner. His main competition is Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. If Kershaw wins each of his last three starts, he'll get to 20 with an ERA right around 2.00 or below. That'll be tough to top, even with the six weeks on the shelf.

• Not that pitcher wins matter a whole lot, but the Phillies are one of only two teams Kershaw has faced more than once and has a losing record against. He's 3-4 with a 2.92 ERA in 11 starts vs. the Phils. (He's 2-3 with a 3.18 ERA vs. the Pirates.)

• To avoid 100 losses, the Phils must go 5-8 or better in these final four series against the Dodgers, Braves, Nationals and Mets. Only the three games against the Braves are on the road.

Phillies-Athletics thoughts: No longer the worst team in baseball

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Phillies-Athletics thoughts: No longer the worst team in baseball

Another night, another homer and two more walks from Rhys Hoskins. This has to stop at some point, right? 

Hoskins is 34 games into his major-league career and is hitting .314/.442/.805 with 18 homers and 39 RBIs. At no point has he gone into a slump, aside from his 0-for-12 start.

Hoskins has reached base 17 times in his last six games, going 8 for 20 with six homers, 12 RBIs, nine runs and nine walks. His 1.346 OPS since the 0-for-12 start is right in line with Barry Bonds' in his 73-homer season.

The Marlins couldn't solve Hoskins. Over these last 31 games, few pitchers have — the guy has 24 walks and 23 strikeouts while hitting for ridiculous power over that stretch.

Now, the Phillies welcome the Oakland Athletics to Citizens Bank Park for their final interleague series of 2017.

• Hoskins' 39 RBIs are the most ever for a player in his first 34 games. Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Albert Pujols previously held that record with 37.

• At 57-89, the Phillies no longer have the worst record in the majors — the Giants do at 57-91. To avoid 100 losses, the Phils will have to go 6-10 or better the rest of the way.

• The Phils hit .344 with eight homers and 11 doubles in the three-game sweep of Miami.

• The Phils are a combined 23-12 against the Braves and Marlins this season.

• At 4-13, the Phillies have the worst interleague record in the majors in 2017.

• Four hits from Cesar Hernandez in his return to the lineup last night. He's hitting .293 with a .365 OBP after hitting .294 with a .371 OBP last season. 

Among players who have as many plate appearances as Hernandez the last two seasons, only nine can match his BA and OBP: Charlie Blackmon, Joey Votto, Freddie Freeman, Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Altuve, Corey Seager, Christian Yelich, Buster Posey and D.J. LeMahieu. 

• The Phillies have scored at least eight runs in three straight games for the first time since June 2015. Prior to that, they hadn't done it since 2010.

• Not ready yet to say Jake Thompson has turned a corner; he did allow 10 baserunners in 5⅓ innings last night despite not allowing a run. But two of his last three starts have been pretty good, which should at least give him a bit of confidence heading into the offseason.

• Pitching matchups for this weekend's series against the A's:

Friday: Mark Leiter Jr. (3-5, 4.84) vs. Daniel Mengden (0-1, 7.07)

Saturday: Ben Lively (3-6, 3.86) vs. Kendall Graveman (5-4, 4.48)

Sunday: Henderson Alvarez (Phillies debut) vs. Sean Manaea (10-10, 4.65)