Scott Kingery

Rhys Hoskins gets that 5th at-bat, becomes Phillies' hero

Rhys Hoskins gets that 5th at-bat, becomes Phillies' hero

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ATLANTA — Rhys Hoskins flung his bat to the ground in a rare show of frustration and disgust after striking out in the eighth inning. An hour later, he had a smile on his face and beams of colored light bouncing off his face.

Ah, the redemptive ways of baseball.

Hoskins struck out three times and grounded into one of four Phillies’ double plays in his first four at-bats Tuesday night. But when the 10th inning rolled around, Hoskins got another chance to do some damage and he did plenty. He stroked a tie-breaking, two-run double to right field with two outs to start a four-run rally and help lift the Phillies to a 5-1 win over the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park (see first take).

“I think I learned from an early age that you have to want that fifth at-bat,” Hoskins said amid the bouncing lights and blaring music that fill the Phillies’ clubhouse (home and away) after wins. “Somehow the baseball gods always seem to put that guy into a situation to try to win the game. It happened today. That’s what we dream of as hitters, to be in that situation in extra innings.”

Hoskins hit a 2-2 pitch, a 95-mph fastball from right-hander Jose Ramirez, to score Scott Kingery and Cesar Hernandez, who both shined in setting the table. 

“Rhys’ first couple of at-bats weren’t his best of the season,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “So to see him dig in and get a knock against a guy with some velocity was pretty awesome. The entire dugout erupted on his behalf. Pretty awesome.

“He’s a strong-minded individual. There are so many guys who fold in that situation. The night starts off bad, they’re 0 for 3, they’ve punched out several times and, boom, they’re licked mentally. He just has a different level of grind. He’s just very strong mentally.”

Nick Pivetta pitched five innings of one-run ball and the bullpen delivered five scoreless. Odubel Herrera drove in a run and made a nice catch at the wall.

Kingery, who came off the bench in the seventh, drew a walk to open the 10th. With Hernandez at the plate, Kapler gave Kingery the green light and the rookie swiped second on the second pitch that Ramirez threw to Hernandez. It was a gutsy call and a gutsy play by Kingery but the Phillies had good intel on Ramirez’s move and time to the plate. Kingery slid hard and held the base with a fingertip.

“You’ve got to get a runner in scoring position somehow,” he said. “We had good information, so I felt confident.”

Kingery moved to third on a nice base-hit bunt by Hernandez, who then stole second. After struggling Carlos Santana (he’s hitting .136) struck out and Herrera popped out, Hoskins came up with two outs.

“He had a little bit of a rough day and you knew he wanted to come up big,” Kingery said. “I had a feeling he was going to get the job done there. That was just a good at-bat by a good player. It was just another example of this team getting big hits in big situations and kind of fighting until the end.”

The Phils are 10-6. They have won nine of their last 11.

At the Yard with Scott Kingery — On comparisons to Chase Utley

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

At the Yard with Scott Kingery — On comparisons to Chase Utley

Scott Kingery is off to one of the hottest starts by a Phillies rookie in recent memory. 

Hitting .280 with two homers (one a grand slam) and 12 RBI in his first 13 big-league games, Kingery has already begun to make a name for himself.

Appearing on Jim Salisbury's At the Yard podcast, Kingery talked all things Phils, but most notably he discussed comparisons to the legendary Chase Utley.

"Anytime you’re put in the same sentence as (Chase Utley), that’s an honor," Kingery told Salisbury. "I did watch him and I watched guys like Dustin Pedroia growing up and Derek Jeter. You see the way they play the game and they go about it the right way and they go hard. That’s something I could look up to. For me, it was, you don’t have to be the most talented guy on the field. If you’re out there and you’re hustling and you’re making plays and you’re helping your team win any way you can, that’s what you can look up to. That’s the type of special player that people want on their teams."

Is Kingery — a  second baseman turned super utility fielder —the next Chase Utley?

Listen to the full episode below:

 

Phillies demolish Rays for rare AL East sweep

Phillies demolish Rays for rare AL East sweep

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — First with his glove and then with his bat, Aaron Altherr came up huge in helping the sizzling Phillies stay hot with a 10-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday afternoon.

Altherr saved two runs with a diving catch in right field to end the sixth inning. Had he not caught Denard Span's first-pitch scorcher against reliever Luis Garcia, the Rays would have tied the game and who knows what would have happened the rest of the way.

Instead, the Phillies carried a two-run lead into the seventh inning then extended it to seven on the strength of a five-run eighth inning. Altherr highlighted that uprising with a three-run home run.

Altherr had been off to a frigid start — 2 for 34 — before the home run.

Altherr's offense and defense helped the Phillies sweep the Rays. It was the Phils' second straight series sweep and first in a three-game series against an American League East team since they swept Baltimore in June 2003. The Phils took three from Cincinnati last week and head to Atlanta for three Monday.

With six wins in a row, the Phils are now 9-5. That's their best start since 2011, the last year they made the postseason.

The Rays are 3-12.

Ben Lively did not have a good start. He lasted just four innings, gave up seven hits and three runs. He allowed two runs in the first on a solo homer by Span and an RBI triple by Mallex Smith.

The Phillies' offense came alive against Tampa Bay lefty Ryan Yarbrough in the third inning. The Phils scored four runs in the frame, three of which were unearned after an error by shortstop Daniel Robertson. Rookie Scott Kingery had the big hit in the inning, a three-run double with two outs. Kingery hit an 0-2 fastball over the centerfielder's head to clear the bases. Seven of Kingery's 14 hits are doubles and he has 12 RBIs in his first 13 big-league games.

In addition to Kingery and Altherr, the bullpen came up huge for the Phillies. It picked up five innings after Lively left and allowed just an unearned run.

The stickiest spot came in the sixth when the Rays, trailing by two runs, had runners on second and third with two outs and the lefty-hitting Span at the plate. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler called for the right-hander Garcia, but he did not exactly fool Span. The Rays' leadoff man smoked a first-pitch liner to right. Altherr was well positioned. He took a few steps forward and made a diving catch, saving two runs.

• The Phils move on to Atlanta for three games beginning Monday night. Pitching matchups:

Monday night — RHP Aaron Nola (1-0, 1.96) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (0-1, 7.07)

Tuesday night — RHP Nick Pivetta (1-0, 2.70) vs. RHP Mike Foltynewicz (1-1, 2.93)

Wednesday night — RHP Vince Velasquez (1-1, 3.52) vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy (2-0, 3.31)