Rhys Hoskins likes the feeling when the Phillies send ace Aaron Nola out for his start.
“We’re always confident when No. 27 is on the mound,” Hoskins said.
Hoskins — at last — was able to help out Nola with a sorely needed boost at the plate and perhaps quiet the doubters after a slow start to the season.
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Hoskins shook off a slump with a three-RBI double, Jean Segura homered and Nola tossed seven scoreless innings to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 6-2 win over the New York Mets on Saturday night.
Hoskins, once a feared slugger, has seen his production dramatically dip since the All-Star break last season and the worthiness of his spot in the lineup has been a daily question for manager Joe Girardi.
“I’m not worried about Rhys,” Girardi said before the game.
He was on to something. Hoskins broke the game open in the fifth with a shot to right-center off Steven Matz (0-4) that cleared the bases and gave the Phillies a 5-0 lead. Hoskins hit 18 homers in just 50 games in 2017, 34 in 2018 and 29 last year — but has none this season. He only had one RBI this year and tied an ignominious franchise record this week when he grounded into three double plays in one game.
“I think any time you barrel a baseball, it feels good,” Hoskins said.
Matz allowed eight runs against the Nationals his last time out and seemed to have figured himself out early in this one. Segura hit a solo homer in the second for the 1-0 lead, but that was the only hit the lefty allowed until the fifth.
He walked Andrew McCutchen (batting just .184) with the bases loaded before allowing Hoskins -- his average hovering around .200 all season -- to rip his double. Hoskins scored on Bryce Harper’s head-first slide into second base for an RBI double and a 6-0 lead. That was it for Matz.
When you have results like this a few outings in a row, in your head you're like, I've got to change something. Something's got to be different," Matz said. “That's the battle for me.”
Nola (2-1) tossed three-hit ball and struck out eight over his seven innings. He struck out 30 over this last three starts.
“It was a big series win against the Mets,” Nola said. “They’re a good team. There’s not too many breezes anymore, especially in the East.”
Nola left his last start against Baltimore after allowing one run in eight innings. Two relievers gave up seven runs in the ninth and the Phillies held on for a 13-8 victory.
Dominic Smith broke up the shutout with a two-run homer in the ninth, his fourth straight game with a homer.
“There’s some at-bats when I have runners in scoring position where, especially with me being in the middle of the lineup, I need to be able to get that job done," Smith said. “I have to stay locked in, I have to stay in my zone.”
The Phillies won the first two games of the series after Harper’s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted them to a 6-5 victory Friday. The Phillies are 7-9, and in a season in which it will get late in the playoff push early, they know they needed to get going.
“I think we need to make some hay in the next 10 days,” Girardi said. “These are important games. These two are important. I don’t want to look too far ahead but these games are important.”
The Mets added C Francisco Alvarez and RHP Matthew Allan to their 60-man player pool and assigned them to their training site in Brooklyn, New York. Mets manager Luis Rojas said he wanted the players to stay sharp in case they were needed in big leagues.
“If we feel that they can come and help the team win at some point, then definitely they can come and do it,” Rojas said.
Mets: INF/OF Jeff McNeil was out of the starting lineup again after crashing into a wall and being carted off the field Thursday. Rojas said McNeil “feels better” than he did on Friday.
Phillies: Starter Spencer Howard lasted just 3 1/3 innings on Friday before he left because of a blister on his finger. Howard said he expected to make his next start.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The Phillies finish the series against the Mets on Sunday, giving them 16 home games and only one on the road. That picks up a bit with nine days of road games (that includes a doubleheader) ahead until they return home on Aug. 28. Girardi said he’ll talk to the team about the importance of staying safe on the road and not breaking team protocols.
“I think it’s important that our players are extremely diligent,” he said. “We have a code of conduct. We’ll remind our players on a daily basis.”
The Phillies send RHP Zack Wheeler 92-0, 2.89 ERA) to the mound against New York RHP Rick Porcello (1-2, 5.68). Porcello allowed three runs in 13 innings over his last two starts. He allowed 11 runs in six innnings in his first two.
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