Phillies

Rhys Hoskins scuffles as Phillies drop series to Athletics

Rhys Hoskins scuffles as Phillies drop series to Athletics

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Turns out, Rhys Hoskins is human after all. 

After a torrid series against Miami that prompted teammate Nick Williams to declare the rookie sensation “an alien,” Hoskins showed he’s susceptible to the bad stretches that all major league hitters go through. 

A weekend that matched two of the hottest rookie sluggers in the game ended up one-sided, as Oakland’s Matt Olson homered for the third straight day and the Athletics took the rubber game of the three-game series, 6-3, Sunday with the help of former West Chester University star Joey Wendle’s grand slam (see observations)

The game at Citizens Bank Park ended when Blake Treinen fanned Hoskins with a runner on. Hoskins went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts. He struck out six times and went 0 for 11 in the three-game series. 

“I think he just expanded the zone,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “I think up until the past few days, and this is just my perspective on it, I think he was just letting it happen. And I think in the last few days he was trying to make it happen.” 

Hoskins had 18 homers in 34 games entering Friday night, with six homers in the previous six games. He spent the weekend mostly flailing away and showed his frustration when he flung his bat after flying out to right in the fifth inning. 

“I think he got a little bit overanxious,” Hoskins said. “But every hitter goes through periods like that.”

Maikel Franco went 3 for 4 and drove in two runs for the Phillies, who led 3-2 when Henderson Alvarez left with no outs in the sixth inning after what was a successful return to the big leagues following a two-year injury absence. 

But Wendle later crushed a first-pitch mistake slider from Edubray Ramos into the right-field seats. It was the Avon Grove High School product’s second career home run. 

Alvarez gave up four runs and four hits with two walks and four strikeouts, using a fastball that topped out at 93. Besides back-to-back homers by Chad Pinder and Olson in the fourth, Alvarez was pleased with his performance. 

“I was a little nervous, I have to admit,” he said through an interpreter. “It was almost like my first time in the big leagues.”

It was a milestone in a difficult journey for the 2014 NL All-Star who threw a no-hitter for the Marlins in 2013. Multiple shoulder surgeries kept him out of the majors for two years. He was playing with the Long Island Ducks in the independent Atlantic League when the Phillies signed him to a minor league deal last month.  

“A lot of people didn’t believe in me. A lot of people thought that my career was over,” Alvarez said. “It’s great to be here and I’m grateful to the Phillies for giving me the opportunity to show not only them but everyone, that I’m still good, that I can still pitch. Even after my surgeries, I feel fine and I want to keep showing everyone I’m ready to go and can still pitch.”

Alvarez could get two more starts as he hopes to land a spot in the 2018 rotation. 

“That’s the point,” Alvarez said. “I’m working hard to at least give them a reason to think about me.”

Wilson Ramos has a debut to remember as Phillies bounce back with crucial win over Red Sox

Wilson Ramos has a debut to remember as Phillies bounce back with crucial win over Red Sox

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Wilson Ramos, all 250 pounds of him, rounded second base like a runaway buffalo and headed for third. He slid in safely with just the second triple of his career – and first since 2011 – pumped his fist emphatically and gave the Phillies’ dugout one of those looks that said, “Let’s bleeping go!”

The moment verified two things:

One, Ramos’ hamstring is healthy.

And two, the big catcher, who goes by the nickname “The Buffalo,” is all-in with his new team and its quest to end a six-year postseason drought.

Ramos’ triple came with no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning and the Phillies locked in a tie ballgame with the Boston Red Sox. Moments later, he trotted home with the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Scott Kingery and the Phillies were on their way to a 7-4 win over baseball’s best team (see first take).

Ramos, 31, had been acquired by the Phils from Tampa Bay before last month’s trade deadline. The Phils picked him up even though he was on the disabled list with a hamstring strain. He was deemed healthy and activated from the disabled list earlier Wednesday and had a debut that included two doubles, a triple and three RBIs. Two of the RBIs came on a seventh-inning double that helped seal the game. It was the first time he’d had three extra-base hits in a big-league career that started in 2010.

The Phils added Ramos because they needed an offensive boost and he delivered it. 

“Today is a special day, especially for me, my Phillies debut,” Ramos said. “I remember feeling the same in my MLB debut. I went 4 for 5 in my MLB debut. This one, pretty similar. It made me feel excited. I wanted to show everybody here what I can do and that’s what I can do.”

A night after giving up a tie-breaking homer in a 2-1 loss to Boston, Tommy Hunter, one of seven relievers employed by manager Gabe Kapler, got the win.

Hunter shared it with his former Tampa Bay teammate, Ramos.

“The dude is a stud,” Hunter said. “I played with him last year. You can’t expect anything less from a buffalo. He’s a welcomed addition. And we can’t welcome him with more open arms than what we have tonight.”

The victory was one of the Phillies’ best of the season because they came from three runs down against a powerhouse team, and it was one of their most important because it came at a time when the doubters were beginning to stir after the club had gone 2-5 in its previous seven games to fall out of first place in the NL East and slip two games behind the Atlanta Braves in the standings.

“We have had a lot of special wins,” Kapler said. “That one was a lot of fun, I can tell you that. Any time the action starts early and you’re starting to make decisions early in the game and you’re thinking about tomorrow’s game and the doubleheader and all of that all at once, it’s really stimulating and invigorating and I think that’s how we all felt in the dugout tonight – invigorated.

“Through good and bad, our job is to keep laser-sharp focus on the step right in front of us. We’re not thinking about 15 games down the road. We’ve shown that we can turn the page, we can take a punch and come out fighting the next day. So we’re certainly not thinking about last night or what’s going on around us. Our focus is squarely on this game and we showed that tonight and now our focus is on tomorrow.”

With the win, the Phillies, who still trail Atlanta by two games, improved to 66-53. They have equaled last season’s win total – with 43 games remaining.

Two of the Phillies’ wins have come in four games against Boston in the last two weeks. Both times, the Phillies lost the previous night’s game by a score of 2-1.

“They have tremendous athletes and pop up and down the lineup, but we feel we can go toe to toe with them and we feel like we’ll continue to go toe to toe with the best in baseball,” Kapler said.

There were other standouts besides Ramos. Newcomer Justin Bour got the start at first base, had a pair of hits, scored an important run in the seventh inning and made a crucial defensive play to keep the game tied in the top of the sixth.

The bullpen was also a standout. Hector Neris left the bases loaded in the third after the Sox scored three times against ineffective starter Vince Velasquez. Neris had spent the previous five weeks in Triple A, working on his splitter and regaining his confidence.

“Hector Neris saved this game for us,” Kapler said. “He came into a spot where the game was about to be out of hand. He got a pop out and a punch-out. He threw some nasty splits. This is a guy who went down to Triple A for us. He had a pride-swallowing moment. He worked his tail off to get his stuff back. He came up and just executed beautifully for us tonight. We definitely don't win that game without the contributions of Hector Neris.” 

In all, the bullpen pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

Against the majors’ best offense.

Impressive win. Important win.

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Wilson Ramos' dominant Phillies debut wakes up offense in win over Red Sox

Wilson Ramos' dominant Phillies debut wakes up offense in win over Red Sox

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Wilson Ramos made a big impact in his first game with the Phillies.

Make that a huge impact.

Ramos, acquired in a trade deadline deal two weeks ago and activated from the disabled list on Wednesday afternoon, had a career-high three extra-base hits to help the Phillies come from three runs down to beat the Boston Red Sox, 7-4, at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night.

Ramos had two doubles and a triple on his way to three RBIs.

Ramos started a game-tying, three-run rally in the fourth inning with an RBI double.

Two innings later, he led off with a triple – just the second of his career and first since 2011 – and scored the go-ahead run on a pinch-hit sacrifice fly by Scott Kingery.

In the seventh, Ramos drove in two more runs with his second double of the game. The Phils sent eight men to the plate in that inning and scored three runs.

The Phillies’ bullpen was outstanding with 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

Over the course of two weeks, the Phillies played the Red Sox four times. The Phils won two and lost two, a more than respectable showing against baseball’s best team.

In those four games, Phillies pitching allowed just eight runs.

The Phillies, who entered the day two games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East, are 66-53. They have matched their wins total from last season with 43 games remaining.

Vince Velasquez struggled for the second straight outing. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings and gave up three runs, all of which came in the third inning.

Velasquez’s wounds in the third inning were largely self-inflicted. He issued a one-out walk to the pitcher then hit Andrew Benintendi with an 0-2 pitch before the Red Sox loaded the bases on an infield hit by Brock Holt. That brought Mitch Moreland to the plate and he unloaded on a 1-1 fastball, sending a line drive to the wall in left-center to clear the bases. The ball got by centerfielder Odubel Herrera, who may have saved a run if he could have cut off the ball.

After Moreland’s hit, Velasquez walked the next two batters to re-load the bases. Hector Neris came on and got two outs to stop the damage.

Neris’ work in his first action since returning from Triple A was important because it kept the game close and the Phillies were able to tie it with three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Rhys Hoskins reached base on an error to start the rally. Nick Williams singled and Ramos launched an RBI double off the right-field wall for a run. Herrera drove home the second run with a ground ball to first and Carlos Santana tied it with a pinch-hit single to right.

Santana did not start as manager Gabe Kapler went with Justin Bour at first base (see story). Santana essentially filled Bour’s pinch-hitting role and came through with his 67th RBI.

Bour made a big contribution on defense to stop a Boston threat in the top of the sixth. The Sox had runners on first and second with two outs in a tie game. Reliever Tommy Hunter got pinch-hitter Steve Pearce to hit a ground ball to the right side. The ball had a chance to get through the hole because Cesar Hernandez was shifted toward second base. Hernandez was able to halt the ball and make an off-balance throw to Bour at first. Initially, it looked like Bour was not able to hold the bag as he stretched for the throw. But replays showed he did hold the bag for the third out and that prevented the go-ahead run from scoring.

In the bottom of the inning, the Phillies rallied to break the tie on a pinch-hit sacrifice fly by Kingery. Ramos scored on the play after opening the frame with a triple.


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