Phillies

Phillies 4, Mets 3: Rhys Hoskins breaks slump with crucial home run

Phillies 4, Mets 3: Rhys Hoskins breaks slump with crucial home run

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK – An important bat in the Phillies’ lineup woke up Friday night and lifted the team to an important win.

Slumping Rhys Hoskins clubbed a tie-breaking home run in the top of the eighth inning to help propel the Phillies to a 4-3 win over the New York Mets in the first of a three-game series at Citi Field.

Hoskins had been in an 0-for-14 skid before the home run and he was just 2 for his previous 30. The home run was his team-best 28th and it made a winner out of Aaron Nola, who allowed just three runs over seven innings.

Nola is 16-4 with a 2.29 ERA.

The Phillies entered the night 3½ games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East. The Braves were playing a late game in Arizona.

Another Nola gem
Nola is 8-1 with a 1.94 ERA after a Phillies’ loss this season.

The right-hander allowed just three hits and a walk. He struck out eight.

However, two of the hits that Nola allowed were home runs, including a game-tying solo shot by Dominic Smith in the bottom of the seventh.

Nola has been mostly brilliant at keeping the ball in the yard this season. He allowed just eight homers in his first 27 starts. He has given up five in his last two.

Hoskins’ big hit
Hoskins’ go-ahead homer came on a 1-2 fastball – 97 mph — from Tyler Bashlor. Hoskins fell behind, 0-2, in the count but stayed alive before launching the game’s biggest hit over the wall in left.

Good bullpen work
After Hoskins gave the Phils the lead, Gabe Kapler went to his bullpen. Seranthony Dominguez delivered a 1-2-3 eighth. Tommy Hunter got the save. Hunter has not allowed a run in his last 5 2/3 innings.

The lineup
Kapler loaded his lineup with switch-hitters and right-handed bats against lefty Steven Matz. One of those switch-hitters, Carlos Santana, belted a two-run homer in the third inning. Right-handed hitters Aaron Altherr and Jose Bautista started in center and right field, respectively, and batted in the No. 3 and 4 spots in the order.

Matz ran a high pitch count and exited after five innings. The Mets brought in righty Eric Hanhold for the sixth inning and Kapler pinch-hit for Altherr and Bautista with lefty bats Odubel Herrera and Nick Williams. Herrera led off with a double and scored on a one-out hit by Asdrubal Cabrera to give the Phils a 3-2 lead.

Make the skipper smile
Kapler is always talking about how he loves long at-bats where the hitter makes the pitcher work and does damage at the end of the at-bat. Santana’s at-bat in the third was nirvana for Kapler. Santana worked a full-count and hit the 10th pitch of the at-bat out of the park for a two-run homer.

Santana is hot
At a time when the Phillies really need his bat, Santana has five homers and 14 RBIs in his last 17 games. He is up to 22 homers and 81 RBIs for the season.

Phillie killer
Jay Bruce gave the Mets a 1-0 lead with a solo homer in the second inning. He has 22 homers and 60 RBIs in his career against the Phils.

Health check
An MRI on Maikel Franco’s sore right wrist revealed a bone bruise. He remains day to day. He was able to take some swings before the game.

Roman Quinn did not start after some lingering soreness from being hit by a pitch in the foot on Wednesday.

Up next
Tough draw for the Phillies on Saturday night as they face gas-throwing Noah Syndergaard in the second game of the series.

Syndegaard pitched a complete-game two-hitter and struck out 11 against the Giants in his last outing. Zach Eflin goes for the Phillies.

Vince Velasquez opposes Cy Young candidate Jacob deGrom in the series finale on Sunday.

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

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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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