On Charlie Manuel's first night as hitting coach, the Phillies' heretofore struggling offense erupted for 13 hits in an 11-1 win over the Chicago Cubs.
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The win was the Phillies' second in a row over the Cubs, both coming after the team dismissed hitting coach John Mallee on Tuesday.
The Phillies' offensive rampage included three homers - a grand slam by J.T. Realmuto and a pair by Bryce Harper - and three doubles.
A decade after he led the Phillies to the 2008 World Series title, Manuel is still beloved by fans. They chanted "Charlie! … Charlie!" after Realmuto's grand slam in the third and Harper's upper-deck bomb in the sixth (see story).
The victory came six years to the day after Manuel managed his last game for the Phillies in 2013.
The Phillies are 62-58. They entered the day two games back in the NL wild-card race.
Not to be outdone
Aaron Nola was as impressive as the offense. The right-hander bounced back from a less-than-stellar outing (5 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs) in San Francisco and pitched seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball. He struck out seven. The only run he allowed came in the seventh on a homer by Kris Bryant. The Phils had an 11-0 lead at that point.
Nola is 11-3 with a 3.56 ERA.
A not so welcome home
Manuel wasn't the only 2008 World Series hero back in the spotlight. Cole Hamels, pitching for the first time as an opponent in Philadelphia, did not make it out of the third inning. In fact, he did not get an out in the inning. The 35-year-old lefty was racked for nine hits and eight runs.
Hamels took the mound wearing on his sleeve the same patch honoring David Montgomery that the Phillies wear (see story). Hamels was close to the well-respected former Phillies club president, who died in May.
The crowd saluted Hamels with two standing ovations, one as he took the mound and one before his at-bat in the top of the third inning.
A new look
Manager Gabe Kapler used slumping Rhys Hoskins in the leadoff spot. It was the first time in Hoskins' career that he'd batted in that spot. Hoskins entered the game in a 2-for-28 slump over the previous eight games.
Even when he's in a funk at the plate, Hoskins works counts and sees pitches. Kapler thought that approach would be valuable at the top of the lineup, even if Hoskins wasn't getting hits.
In his first at-bat, Hoskins singled against Hamels. He raised his arms in triumph as he came out of the batter's box.
Behind the plate, he threw out his 26th attempted base stealer, the most by a Phillies catcher since Mike Lieberthal gunned down 26 in 2002. Overall, Realmuto has caught 26 of 65 (40 percent) this season.
At the plate, Realmuto doubled and had his second grand slam of the season.
In his 42 games since June 24, Realmuto is hitting .305 (47 for 154) with 14 doubles, three triples, seven homers and 27 RBIs. His season batting average is up to .277 and he has 17 homers.
The Phillies have not had a series sweep since the end of June when they took four from the Mets. They will look to make it three straight and a sweep against the Cubs on Thursday night. Drew Smyly (2-6, 6.96) opposes Yu Darvish (4-6, 4.43).
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