Four hours before the scheduled first pitch, Phillies officials were strongly considering postponing Friday night’s game and playing a separate-admission doubleheader on Saturday. That’s how bad the weather forecast was.
The Phils rolled the dice that they could get the game in and it paid off. Yes, it was cold. Yes, it was wet. Yes, it was downright miserable. But everyone left happy when the Phils scored a 10-4 win over the Minnesota Twins at Citizens Bank Park (see observations).
“It was really rough out there,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “It was cold. And it was just a consistent wet. I know the outfielders were having some trouble seeing the ball.”
The teams played through a relentless rain for the first five innings.
And you know what else was relentless?
The Phillies’ offense.
Check it out: The Phils have played six games. They are 5-1. They have scored at least eight runs five times and reached double digits twice. Not since 1898, when Ed Delahanty and Nap Lajoie were smacking it around for the local nine, have the Phils opened a season by scoring at least five runs in each of their first six games.
“(Bench coach) Rob Thomson and I were talking about it on the bench,” Kapler said. “He looked at me toward the end of the game and he said, 'Man, this offense can grind you down.' That's a good description of what our guys have done thus far.”
The Phillies’ ability to score runs has started with the way they are seeing pitches, wearing down pitchers and getting on base. They are averaging over 6.5 walks per game. They had nine on Friday night. They saw 192 pitches, including 36 from Minnesota starter Jake Odorizzi. The Phils knocked Odorizzi out in the first inning and that’s always a good way to start a three-game series because of the effect it can have on an opponent’s bullpen.
“The story tonight is 192 pitches,” Kapler said. “The league average is 140-ish. That's what we've done the entire season. We've grinded down pitchers. We've gotten big hits. It's the deep counts. It's the walks. It's the great at-bats that have carried us thus far.”
Cleanup hitter Rhys Hoskins had a big game with three singles, a walk and four RBIs. He personally saw 36 pitches.
No opposing starting pitcher has gone more than five innings against this Phillies’ offense.
“That’s very encouraging,” Hoskins said. “We had a lot of that last year, too, especially towards the beginning. We also brought in some pretty good hitters, especially Andrew McCutchen at the top, taking at-bats like he does, leading off a game, leading off an inning, and it’s pretty contagious.
“Our lineup is just really deep. Guys are taking professional at-bats every time through a lineup and that wears on a pitcher. You take walks. Good things usually happen when you have guys on base all the time.”
And on the bases, these Phillies are aggressive.
For instance, Hoskins had a rare three-run single in the seventh inning, all because Bryce Harper capitalized on some slow play in the Minnesota outfield and scored from first base.
If Hoskins finishes with 100 RBIs, he can thank Harper for being aggressive.
“That was outstanding,” Hoskins said. “We had great base running all game. That’s just baseball instincts. You can’t teach that. I asked (third base coach) Dusty Wathan if he sent him and he didn’t. That was just all Bryce. It was fun in all facets of the game today.”
Hoskins needed to have some fun. He made a costly eighth-inning error in Wednesday’s one-run loss at Washington. Without that error, the Phillies might be 6-0.
But 5-1 ain’t too shabby.
“That’s baseball,” Hoskins said. “The beautiful part about this game is you usually get put in the same situations right away. So being able to have a short memory helps. All I was thinking about was today and a new opportunity.”
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