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.”