Phillies

Phillies 2, Twins 1: Zach Eflin tosses a gem and Rhys Hoskins' home run saves the day

Phillies 2, Twins 1: Zach Eflin tosses a gem and Rhys Hoskins' home run saves the day

BOX SCORE 

Rhys Hoskins belted the go-ahead home run and Zach Eflin pitched a gem one day before his 25th birthday to lead the Phillies to a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday afternoon.

The Phillies took two of three in the interleague series to improve to 6-2.

Hoskins' third homer of the season, a two-run shot capping a tremendous at-bat, came with two outs in the sixth.

Eflin pitched seven innings of one-run ball to go to 2-0.

Relievers David Robertson, Adam Morgan and Hector Neris combined for the final six outs to close out the one-run victory. Neris got the final three outs for the save.

The keys

• Hoskins’ at-bat in the bottom of the sixth against Minnesota starter Jose Berrios was a magnificent nine-pitch battle in which the Phillies’ cleanup man fouled off three full-count offerings before planting a breaking ball in the flower boxes in left-center.

Berrios gave up just two hits in six innings.

• Manager Gabe Kapler showed confidence in Eflin in sending him back to the mound for the top of the seventh inning. Eflin was at 95 pitches, but had ended the previous inning with a strikeout on a 95-mph fastball. Pitching with a one-run lead thanks to Hoskins’ homer, Eflin responded with a 1-2-3 seventh inning to end his day. Kapler’s decision to stick with Eflin is the kind of move that builds confidence in a pitcher and pays dividends down the road.

• Andrew McCutchen has debuted brilliantly at the plate and on the base paths with his new club. He added defense to the mix in this game by cutting down a run at the plate with a great throw in the fourth inning. In a one-run contest, it was a game changer and the crowd of 39,735 gave him a standing ovation.

Eflin’s day

The right-hander allowed a leadoff homer to Max Kepler (he homered in all three games of the series) but pitched shutout ball the rest of the way. He gave up six hits, walked none and struck out five.

Eflin has been the Phillies’ best starter so far. In two outings, he has given up just one run over 12 innings. He has walked one, struck out 14 and allowed nine hits.

Health check

Roman Quinn had three hits, including a homer, a walk and three runs scored for Single A Clearwater on Saturday. Quinn missed extensive time in spring training with an oblique strain. It would not be surprising to see him back with the big club sometime this week.

The Phils face a tough decision in making room for Quinn, who is out of minor-league options. Aaron Altherr is also out of minor-league options and the Phils are likely to lose him (and the centerfield depth he provides) if they try to sneak him through waivers. Nick Williams does have options, but he’s a valuable left-handed power threat off the bench. Stay tuned.

Up next

The Phillies open a three-game series against the Washington Nationals on Monday night. Vince Velasquez makes his first start of the season in the opener against Nats’ right-hander Anibal Sanchez. Aaron Nola pitches Tuesday night against Stephen Strasburg and Nick Pivetta closes it out Wednesday night against Jeremy Hellickson.

The Phils split a two-game series with Washington last week.

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One big way Tommy Hunter could help Phillies over final 75-80 games

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USA Today Images

One big way Tommy Hunter could help Phillies over final 75-80 games

A key piece of the Phillies' bullpen is nearly ready to return. Tommy Hunter, out all season with a flexor strain, could be activated as early as this weekend while the Phillies are in Miami.

Hunter pitched two scoreless innings for Reading on a rehab assignment Tuesday night. He struck out two and got a double play ball, needing just 18 pitches to get through the two innings.

Because Hunter has been out the entire first half, the Phillies would ideally like to get him in back-to-back games during his rehab stint but won't delay his activation too long if they cannot.

Hunter will be a welcomed addition to the Phillies' injury-ravaged bullpen and should be in a primary setup role before too long. He bounced back from an inconsistent first half in 2018 to post a 2.91 ERA over his final 30 appearances.

One big way Hunter should help the Phillies is against left-handed hitters. He is a right-handed reliever but relies heavily on his cutter, a pitch he uses to jam lefties or backdoor them for a strike. 

The Phillies can't turn to Adam Morgan or Jose Alvarez to match up with every lefty they face, so they need right-handed relievers who can retire lefties. So far this season, their righties have not done it effectively. Lefties have hit .325 against the right-handed group of Pat Neshek, Juan Nicasio, Edgar Garcia, Edubray Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez.

There is still a chance for Hunter to earn some of this year's $9 million salary. If he can stay healthy, his arm will be a fresh one in the second half.

Other injury updates

• David Robertson (flexor strain) is still several weeks away. The Phillies have gotten frustratingly little out of Robertson, Hunter and Neshek this season, a trio combining to earn $25 million.

• Adam Haseley (groin) will play nine innings tonight for Reading.

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10 of the best random Philly sports guys you remember

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AP / USAT / Opeechee

10 of the best random Philly sports guys you remember

Philly sports fans have been remembering some guys since the first ball was thrown at the Baker Bowl or Shibe Park over a century ago. The folks at Deadspin popularized the online version of “Remembering Some Guys.” And when the bamboo strikes real good, sometimes we want to remember some Philly guys on social media as NBC Sports Philly’s Twitter and Facebook accounts prompted on Tuesday evening.

The responses were clear: people love remembering some Philly sports guys.

Here are 10 of our favorite responses.

One of the more popular responses was pitcher Antonio Alfonseca who had an unremarkable stint in Philly in 2007 but is frequently remembered for being a polydactyly. He had six fingers on one hand and Wikipedia says his nickname was "El Pulpo" which translates to "The Octopus." Tough to forget that guy.

Did Michael Zordich invent Zubaz? You’d probably believe me if I told you he did. What do we remember about Mike Zordich? Mostly just the look.

Willie Burton broke the record for points scored in a game at the Spectrum by a Sixer when he went off for 53 in an improbable game in 1994. Remember that?

I’m not a big hockey guy so picking a rando was tougher but I was always a fan of Luca Sbisa because the guy’s name was Luca and he was a hockey player from Italy. Amazing.

Reno Mahe and Gizmo Williams.

These two were among the most-frequently mentioned in our polling. People like to remember special teamers, it seems. The best thing I remember about Reno was that he worked at Chickie’s and Pete’s while playing for the Eagles. Talk about lunch pail kinda guy. Plenty of people remember Gizmo because the guy’s name was Gizmo and he flipped. People remember flips.

What do we remember about Kjell Samuelsson? Dude was huge! Like a Chewbacca on skates.

People love to remember Dickie Thon and Rick Schu. I think it's the quirky names. Fun fact: Dickie’s name was actually Richard. Rich Schu had the unenviable job of taking over third base for Mike Schmidt. Tough job.

Markelle Fultz. Lol. Remember that guy?

That was fun. You know who I remember? Raja Bell. Pretty good name for a guy playing in Philly. Plus, Kobe eventually hated him. David, too, I guess. He hit for the cycle once.

Who else do you remember?