Not all the noise left Citizens Bank Park when the New York Yankees and their fans pulled out of town Wednesday night.
There was still some left Thursday night, thanks to Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins and Seranthony Dominquez.
Nola pitched a gem, Hoskins hit an important home run and Dominguez cleaned up a mess in the ninth inning as the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals, 4-3 (see first take).
The victory improved the Phillies to 43-36. They are two games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East. Washington is four games back. There are still three games left in this series and it was nice to get the first one, even if came in front of a crowd (25,026) that was about 20,000 shy of what the Phils played in front of the previous three nights.
“It’s always going to be different when it’s not a sellout,” Hoskins said. “Obviously, 25- or 30-thousand is not 40,000. But you could tell the fans were into the game. They were loud when we needed it. They were loud in big situations and I think that just goes to show that they’re a passionate group and they pay attention and know baseball.”
The fans were loud when Nola struck out Trea Turner to get out of a jam in the sixth and loud when he struck out dangerous Bryce Harper three times.
They were loud when Hoskins clubbed his second huge homer in has many nights, a two-run shot in the seventh that proved vital after reliever Tommy Hunter was tagged for a pair of runs in the ninth.
And they were loud again when rookie bullpen ace Seranthony Dominguez, called upon reluctantly by manager Gabe Kapler, ended the game with a strikeout of Wilmer Difo.
“It was different tonight,” Nola acknowledged. “The three games against the Yankees, since I've been here, were the most people I've seen in this stadium. It was loud and pretty electric. But it was definitely a cool atmosphere tonight. I felt toward the end of the game it got louder.”
Especially when he struck out Harper in the eighth.
“I definitely heard it then,” Nola said. “It was pretty cool.”
Nola held the Nats to five hits and a run over 7 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out five. He is 7-0 with a 1.77 ERA in eight home starts this season and 10-2 with a 2.48 ERA overall.
Mr. Nola will go to Washington in a couple of weeks for the All-Star Game.
“I hope so,” he said. “But I'm not really thinking about that now. I'm focusing on trying to do what I can for the team.”
Nola has done plenty.
And so has Hoskins. His homer in the seventh gave the Phils a 4-1 lead. One night earlier, he provided the game’s only runs with a three-run homer in a 3-0 win over the Yankees.
Since coming off the disabled list on June 9, Hoskins has seven homers and 20 RBIs in 18 games. The Phillies are 11-7 in those games.
Hoskins’ broken jaw is almost healed.
“I got to eat a burger for the first time a couple days ago,” he said. “Best burger I ever had.”
Hoskins is still wearing jaw protection on his helmet. He’s going so good that he might actually keep it even after doctors determine his jaw is completely sound.
Comfort or superstition?
“Yes,” Hoskins deadpanned.
Nick Pivetta will pitch against Erick Fedde in the second game of the four-game series on Friday night. The Phillies probably won’t have Dominguez for that game because he has worked 2 2/3 innings the last two nights and thrown 36 pitches. Kapler would have preferred not to use his most trusted bullpen arm on a night when his team went into the ninth inning ahead, 4-1, but it became necessary when Tommy Hunter was tagged for two runs in the ninth.
“We had to use Seranthony at the end and he was outstanding,” Kapler said. “We didn’t want to use him tonight, but that’s baseball. If you don’t expect some challenges, if you expect it to be easy, you’re in the wrong sport. It’s just not how it works.
“You’re going to have times when it lines up pretty good, but there are going to be other times when you go to a guy you didn’t expect to and you have to kind of lean on him a little bit. We were able to do that with Seranthony tonight and we have a really good plan for how to care for him long term. We feel very confident in our ability to do so and I’m glad that he was able to step up for us.”