SEATTLE — When Rhys Hoskins gets hot, the Phillies, along with the baseball, can go a long way.
The Mariners didn’t seem to faze the Philadelphia first baseman much this week — if anything, Hoskins thrived in the Great Northwest.
Hoskins single-handedly led the Phillies to victory on Wednesday at T-Mobile Park with a mammoth grand slam in the top of the fourth inning, turning a 95.3 mph Logan Gilbert fastball into a 106 mph line drive that sailed into the left field stands — and turning a 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 Philadelphia lead, in an eventual 4-2 win.
The homer was the second grand slam of Hoskins’ career, and his third home run of the three-game series. The 6-foot-4 inch slugger hit a second-inning solo homer in the Phillies’ 9-0 victory over the Mariners on Monday, and hit another solo shot in the seventh inning of the Phils’ 5-4 loss on Tuesday night.
Hoskins has been hitting the ball hard this season, with little to show for it. Coming into Wednesday’s game, he was hitting just .212, with a .413 slugging percentage and a .303 on-base percentage, but he ranked 21st in MLB in hard-hit rate at 51.4 percent, and is 14th in exit velocity with an average of 93.1 mph.
Last week, during the two rainout days in the Phils’ series against the Mets, Hoskins and hitting coach Kevin Long spent more than an hour in the batting cage figuring out how to solve Hoskins’ woes. They focused on simplifying his approach at the plate and using his legs to generate more power.
With Hoskins going 6-for-13 against the Mariners with three homers and three singles, it seems that the work he did has reaped rewards.
“The rainouts were a little bit of a blessing in disguise for us,” Hoskins said. “It’s not often you either get a couple days to rest and regain some energy, or work. It’s hard to take more swings than normal during the year, because you’ve got to go play.”
Hoskins was due for a little bit of luck, and it seems that he finally found some this week in Seattle, which manager Joe Girardi hopes to see continue as the Phillies travel to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers this weekend.
When Hoskins gets hot, he can carry the team, like he did during a stretch last season when he put up a 1.035 OPS from May 14 to June 5.
“He’s done it before,” Girardi said. “We need him to continue to swing well and do what he is capable of doing.”
Along with Hoskins, second baseman Jean Segura had another solid day at the plate against his former team, going 1-for-2 with a single and two walks. Segura finished the series 4-for-9 with a pair of homers and four RBIs.
Segura has raised his batting average to .299, and he has an .838 OPS.
“Jean was fantastic,” Girardi said. “We knew that both those guys were much better hitters than their numbers were showing, and it’s starting to show up.”
The Phillies also got a solid performance out of starter Bailey Falter, who was called up for a spot start from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Falter, who got the ball in place of COVID-affected starters Zach Eflin and Zack Wheeler, threw 65 pitches over 4 2/3 innings while allowing one earned run on five hits, with four strikeouts.
That one run came after a questionable safe call at second base, when Adam Frazier appeared to be thrown out while trying to stretch a single into a double. After the Phillies challenged, the umpires upheld the safe call. Two batters later, Julio Rodríguez drove in Frazier with an RBI single.
Falter’s last start came on Friday at Lehigh Valley, where he allowed two hits and no runs over three innings, with five strikeouts against the Syracuse Mets. This time around, Falter joined the team in Seattle and pitched them to a series win.
“That was awesome,” Falter said. “I just came here, I’ve got a job to do, and I’m glad I got that done. The guys got a W. [Catcher] Garrett Stubbs called a great game, and Rhys came in clutch with that grand slam. That’s all I needed to do pretty much to get the team going.”
Falter was pulled just one out away from being eligible for the win, which went to Seranthony Domínguez. Though he wanted to add the W to his stat line, Falter took it in stride.
“You can only do so much,” Falter said. “I just try to control what I can, and I’m happy I helped the team win today.”