Red-hot Rhys Hoskins' double key in Phillies' latest win over Braves

Red-hot Rhys Hoskins' double key in Phillies' latest win over Braves


Rhys Hoskins has set a very high standard for himself in three weeks in the major leagues. So his teammates didn't feel the need to break out the top-shelf atta-boys when all he did was double home the go-ahead run in the Phillies' 6-1 win over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night (see Instant Replay).

"I didn't even want to give him a high five," Cameron Rupp deadpanned. "I said, 'Dude, that's not good enough.' I mean, look what he's been doing the last 10 days."

Rupp had a point. Hoskins had slugged himself into the game's national spotlight by smacking 11 homers in his first 64 big-league at-bats, faster than anyone in major-league history. Hoskins' home run streak ended at five straight games Monday night, but he still managed the game's biggest hit. His first-pitch double down the left-field line with one out in the sixth inning gave the Phils a 2-1 lead.

"I told him I’m not mad at him," manager Pete Mackanin said. "The double was OK. If you’re not going to hit a home run, I’ll take a double."

The double left Hoskins with a 10-game hitting streak and 25 RBIs in his first 19 games.

Not too shabby.

"He's fun to watch," winning pitcher Aaron Nola said.

Hoskins' sixth-inning double scored Nick Williams, another rookie who's swinging it pretty well. Williams preceded Hoskins' double with a double of his own, a line drive off the left-field wall. Williams has 18 extra-base hits in 40 games since the All-Star break. 

Rupp's solo homer in the seventh provided the Phillies with some insurance as they beat Atlanta for the 12th time in 14 games this season.

Nola bounced back from two shaky outings to pitch seven innings of one-run, walk-free ball. He struck out six. He was backed by good defense, particularly from Freddy Galvis, Maikel Franco and Williams.

"He threw all his pitches for strikes," Mackanin said. "He did a great job locating. It sounds like a broken record but location, location, location. That’s what it’s all about. He had good movement on his fastball. Good breaking ball, good changeup."

Said Nola: "I think first-pitch strikes and getting the leadoff hitter out was a big key for me tonight."

Nola also came through at the plate. He singled with one out in the third to drive home Pedro Florimon with the Phillies' first run after Florimon had tripled.

The RBI was just the second of Nola's career and first since 2015, his rookie season. The hit was his second of the season, breaking an 0-for-35 drought, dating to his first start of the season.

"I was trying to put the ball in play there," Nola said. "Guy on third, one out — I didn't want to strike out."

On the mound, Nola picked up his 10th win of the season. The right-hander has beaten Atlanta twice this season, holding the Braves to two runs in 15 innings. He has walked just one batter over that span and struck out 12.

Nola's success against the Braves has mirrored his team's success against that club. Nearly a quarter of the Phillies' wins have come against he Braves. The Phils are 49-81 overall and 12-2 against the Braves.

"It’s hard to say," said Mackanin, searching for a reason for his team's dominance of Atlanta. "Sometimes that just happens and other times, there’s certain teams that you just can’t beat and nothing seems to go your way. I can’t figure it out."

Rupp had a simple explanation for the Phillies' mastery of Atlanta.

"We've got their number, you know," he said. "We've played well against them. We've played good baseball. I don’t think our mentality is any different than when anybody else comes to town. It just seems like we have their number this year.

"I wish we played them every night."

That's not going to happen. But the Phils do play them two more times this week.

Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

AP Images

Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

Most of the baseball world agrees that the Phillies are improved with the additions of No. 2 starter Zack Wheeler, shortstop Didi Gregorius, and the new contingent of manager Joe Girardi, pitching coach Bryan Price and hitting coach Joe Dillon.

The question is how much improved?

The Phils won 81 games last season, a year after winning 80. Both years, they totally collapsed in September. Both years, a good number of players were simply playing out the string, though the effort level was more questionable in 2018 than in 2019.

Even though the Phillies were quiet this offseason after their two big signings, and even though the NL East is still a beast, they should still exceed 81 wins. If they don't, there's a serious problem. If they don't, the GM probably won't be here to try to rectify things next offseason.

The over/under win totals are out and the Phillies' number is 85.5 at FanDuel and 84.5 at DraftKings.

I'd go over at 84.5. Think about how many injuries the Phillies suffered last season. Think about the talent gap between Wheeler and every Phillies starting pitcher behind Aaron Nola last season. The impact of Girardi, Price and Dillon won't be all that quantifiable, but it is realistic that this revamped coaching staff can conjure a few more wins out of the 2020 Phillies, whether it's in-game decision-making or better instructions given to young players who underperformed last season.

At DraftKings, the Mets' over/under is a game better than the Phillies' at 85.5. The Braves are at 90.5 and the Nationals 88.5. The Marlins are at 64.5, higher than only one team, the Tigers.

Much more surprising are the Phillies' World Series odds. They have the sixth-shortest odds to win it all. Seriously. They're +1800. Here is the Top 10:

Yankees: 3.5/1
Dodgers: 5/1
Astros: 6/1
Braves: 11/1
Nationals: 14/1
Phillies: 18/1
Mets: 20/1
Twins: 20/1
Red Sox: 22/1
Cubs: 22/1

Apparently, the expectation is that the NL Central will be bringing up the rear in 2020. Really, the only NL Central team that improved was the Reds. The Cardinals lost Marcell Ozuna, the Brewers lost Yasmani Grandal and the Cubs didn't spend money on a single major-league free agent.

Four of the top seven teams being NL East teams just shows you how much of a battle these next seven months will be for the Phils.

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Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Baseball America’s always interesting Top 100 Prospects list landed this week and the Phillies are represented with two players in the top half.

Starting pitcher Spencer Howard ranks 27th on the list and third baseman Alec Bohm 28th. Both players are projected to open the coming season at Triple A and get to the majors at some point in 2020. Both have been invited to major-league spring training camp, which begins in less than three weeks in Clearwater. See the complete list of Phillies’ in-house non-roster invites here.

Howard, a 23-year-old right-hander, was the Phillies’ second-round draft pick in 2017. We profiled him here.

In its story on the Top 100 prospects, Baseball America offered this take on Howard: Triple-digit fastball, swing-and-miss curveball and the ability to work the edges of the strike zone, Howard flashes front-end potential.

Bohm, 23, was the third overall pick in the 2018 draft. He hit .305 with 21 homers, 80 RBIs and a .896 OPS at three levels, including Double A in 2019. We profiled him here.

Baseball America offered this take on Bohm: Even with questions about whether he’ll have to move to first base, Bohm has the feel to hit and plus power to hit in the middle of the Phillies’ order, and soon.

Shortstop Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays was ranked No. 1 on Baseball America’s list for the second year in a row. The Rays placed eight players on the list. Because of a loaded farm system, the Rays were unable to protect left-hander Cristopher Sanchez on their 40-man roster and the Phillies traded for him in November. Read about Sanchez here.

The Los Angeles Dodgers placed seven players on the list and the Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres had six each.

The Miami Marlins led National League East teams with five players in the Top 100, including former Phillies pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, who was traded for J.T. Realmuto a year ago. Sanchez ranks 16th on the list and is projected to arrive in the majors sometime in 2020.

The Atlanta Braves placed four players on the list and the Washington Nationals and New York Mets joined the Phillies with two players.

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