Phillies

Phillies 6, Mets 0: Rhys Hoskins gets his revenge as Phillies end ugly road trip on a high note

Phillies 6, Mets 0: Rhys Hoskins gets his revenge as Phillies end ugly road trip on a high note

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NEW YORK — It was a forgettable road trip but the Phillies ended it on a positive note, beating the Mets, 6-0, in Wednesday's series finale at Citi Field.

Oh, and Rhys Hoskins got his revenge.

A night after Mets reliever Jacob Rhame threw two fastballs at Hoskins' head in the span of five pitches, Hoskins faced him again and this time homered to left field.

It had to feel amazing for Hoskins, who circled the bases as slowly as you will ever see (see story)

Vince Velasquez pitched well again, even if he lasted only five innings.

The Phils scored their first run in the first inning when J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper hit back-to-back doubles. 

They were quiet until the eighth when they broke things open against Robert Gsellman. Hoskins led off with a triple and Maikel Franco followed with an RBI single. Phil Gosselin drove in a run with a pinch-hit RBI single to center, before Roman Quinn added the third run of the inning with a safety squeeze. Quinn exited a few minutes later with an apparent injury.

For all of the Phillies' recent offensive issues, they have thrived with a runner on third and less than two outs, hitting .500 (21 for 42) to lead the majors.

The win makes the Phillies 13-11, same as the Mets. The Phils have already played 17 games against the NL East and gone 10-7.

Vinny Velo making strides

While continuing to receive little credit from the fan base, Velasquez continues to do his job.

Wednesday night was Velasquez's fourth start of the season and in all four, he's kept the Phillies in the game and limited damage. In this one, 97 pitches forced a five-and-dive, but Velasquez did not allow a run over those five innings.

He stranded the bases loaded in a 27-pitch first inning and stranded two runners in scoring position in the third.

The three biggest at-bats of Velasquez's night all came against the dangerous Wilson Ramos. In the first two ABs, Velasquez struck Ramos out swinging with a high fastball. In the third, Velasquez induced a groundout to second base on his final pitch of the night.

Through four starts, Velasquez has a 1.99 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and a .195 opponents' batting average.

His next start lines up for April 30 against the Tigers, one of the worst offensive teams in baseball.

Quinn can't catch a break

Even the perfectly executed safety squeeze Quinn laid down in the eighth inning ended badly.

Quinn, who is just 3 for 25 with 14 strikeouts, exited the game later in the eighth with a groin strain.

Injuries have unfortunately defined Quinn's career to this point. More on the severity in a bit.

Robertson nearing a return?

Key reliever David Robertson will be reevaluated when the Phillies come home, potentially as early as Thursday (see story). He's feeling good but a throwing program will be determined after that check-up. From there, a minor-league rehab outing or two could be in line before he returns from a Grade 1 flexor strain in his right arm.

Up next

The Phillies begin a nine-game homestand Thursday night at 7:05 against Miami. They have a four-game series with the Marlins, an off day, two with the Tigers, another off day, then three with the Nationals.

Pitching matchups for the Marlins series:

Thursday night at 7:05 — Aaron Nola (2-0, 6.84) vs. LHP Caleb Smith (2-0, 2.35)

Friday night at 7:05 — Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 3.60) vs. Jose Urena (1-3, 5.74)

Saturday night at 6:05 — Jake Arrieta (3-2, 2.65) vs. Trevor Richards (0-3, 3.72)

Sunday afternoon at 1:05 — Zach Eflin (2-2, 3.68) vs. LHP Pablo Lopez (1-3, 5.85)

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The thoughts and sounds behind Bryce Harper's jaw-dropping home run

The thoughts and sounds behind Bryce Harper's jaw-dropping home run

Aaron Nola had no chance at seeing where the ball landed.

Not many did, unless you were a fan leisurely strolling through the center-field concourse and enjoying the amenities of Ashburn Alley at Citizens Bank Park.

"I think it went over the stadium, from where I was sitting," Nola said. "It was a long one."

That's how powerfully Bryce Harper struck his first-inning home run in the Phillies' 2-1 win over the Rockies (see observations). The ball left his bat at 114.1 miles per hour, traveled 466 feet and cleared the brick walls in center field.

It was loud and it made the sellout crowd of 42,354 fans louder.

"I think just as a fan, you just stop and watch the distance of the ball," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I don't think we saw a ball go that far to center field all year last year and certainly not this year. That's rare territory. Pretty impressive."

Harper pounced on a first-pitch fastball from Rockies right-hander Antonio Senzatela. The swing consisted of everything you want to see from Harper, who is 5 for 15 (.333) over his last four games with the homer and three doubles.

He's staying back and driving the ball.

"I think he's beginning to feel it," Kapler said. "I think part of that comes from the work he's been doing with [hitting coach] John Mallee, specifically being a little bit taller on his backside and his hands being a little bit closer to his body."

Harper didn't want to make too much about the distance of his home run. He remembered some advice from a former manager and five-time All-Star.

"Matt Williams always used to tell me, 'It's not how far, it's how many you hit,'" Harper said. "I'm just trying to go about it the right way every single day, doing things out there that help this team win. Just putting the bat to the ball and trying to win games.

Harper has eight home runs and 28 RBIs in 45 games. He has a .371 on-base percentage and is second in baseball to only Mike Trout with 34 walks.

However, he's hitting .230 and was 10 for his last 70 (.143) prior to this 5-for-15 stretch. The Phillies are seeing positive signs, though, from Harper's swing.

"We all believed he was going to break out of what he was in," Nola said. "Guy works hard, works hard at what he does. We've all seen what he's done in his career. Nobody is pressing over him, we know he's the gamer that he is and he does a lot to help the team.

On Saturday, it was a walk, a double and vicious contact on the first pitch he saw.

"I think Harp is best when he's gap to gap," Kapler said. "Every once in a while, he's out in front and pulls the ball down the line. He's at his best when he's hitting high line drives into the gaps, and the ones that he gets just underneath go into the seats or in this case, over everything in center field."

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The weather is warming and here comes Phillies' Aaron Nola

The weather is warming and here comes Phillies' Aaron Nola

The sun was beaming and Aaron Nola was in attack mode, letting the ball rip through the 78-degree heat.

Just like the days back in Baton Rouge, Louisiana?

"It's hot as hell down there in the summer," Nola said with a smile about his hometown.

It wasn't quite that hot Saturday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, but Nola looked at home. He looked like himself, the Nola everybody watched in 2018 when he finished third in the National League Cy Young voting.

Or on second thought …

"Not just the 2018 version, but the best version of the 2018 version," manager Gabe Kapler said.

As the weather turns to warmer temperatures, the man with the most important right arm on the first-place Phillies could be turning into form. It sure appeared that way Saturday as he struck out a career-high-tying 12 batters to pick apart the Rockies in the Phillies' 2-1 win (see observations).

Nola delivered six innings of one-run ball in 106 pitches. He was firing from the get-go, striking out the side in the first inning on 13 pitches. All three punchouts were looking and punctuated by fastballs.

Five days ago from the same mound, Nola needed 38 pitches to finish the first inning against the Brewers. The weather was miserable, a wet 48 degrees at first pitch. He lasted just three frames, throwing 84 pitches in a no-decision.

That performance is now safely buried in the past.

"He was sharp, he was electric, he was running his fastball back over the plate off of the inside," Kapler said. "The curveball was sharp from the outset. When his curveball is good, you see lots of swings and misses, you see empty swings, and that's what was happening today for him."

Nola has a Louisiana coolness to him. The 25-year-old is laid-back, but he's laser-focused.

It's why the Phillies haven't been too worried about his 4.86 ERA entering Saturday or his pinpoint command not being all there through nine starts.

"When I've had conversations with Aaron after the starts that haven't been great, he's so consistent in talking about his process and that being the thing that he can control and the work that he does between starts," Kapler said. "He never comes off of that position. He doesn't cry in his soup, he's not thinking about the last outing that he had, he's already on to the next one. I think the reason that we saw him come out like lightning today is because of the work that he did between starts."

Nola improved to 4-0 with a 4.47 ERA, 60 strikeouts and 21 walks. He's 10 starts into the 2019 season and is only warming. Still, the Phillies have led the NL East and are just starting to see his best around mid-May.

"That's what I remember when I was with the Nats, facing that," Bryce Harper said. "It's getting hot out there, he's from Baton Rouge, so he likes pitching in hot weather, warm weather."

A quiet competitor like Nola knew Saturday's effort was possible, even with his previous start still fresh.

"It's baseball, anything happens," Nola said. "Last outing, I never threw 80-some pitches in three innings. I've never done it before, but it happens. Things can change really quick. Always got to trust what you're doing and keep working hard through the ups and downs."

That warm weather didn't hurt, either.

"It felt good outside," Nola said. "I got a good sweat on, I like sweating when I'm out there."

The Phillies will like Nola in the summer.

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