MLB Wild Card: Rhys Hoskins homers twice in Phillies win over Reds

CINCINNATI — After six games without it, the Phillies found their home run stroke Tuesday night.

They hit five of them on their way to an 11-4 rout of the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Darick Hall and Nick Castellanos smacked back-to-back home runs against Cincinnati starter TJ Zeuch in the third inning and Rhys Hoskins followed with a three-run shot against Zeuch in the fourth to put the Phils up for good. Hoskins went deep again with a two-run shot in the eighth.

Backup catcher Garrett Stubbs, who got the nod behind the plate as JT Realmuto rested, capped the homer barrage with a three-run blow in the ninth.

Ten of the Phils’ 11 runs came via the long ball. In addition to swatting his 11th homer, Castellanos doubled twice. The Phils had 18 hits.

“I didn’t know it was six games,” Hoskins said of the home-run drought, which has coincided with NL long-ball leader Kyle Schwarber being out of the lineup with a mild calf strain. “That’s too long for me. But you can go back and think about the arms we’ve faced.

“Home runs can come in bunches and they can be contagious as a team. This was a great offensive night. We got contributions up and down the lineup and Gibby and our nasty bullpen were great.”

Kyle Gibson and the bullpen made all that offense stand up. Gibson pitched six innings and gave up three runs, all on a pair of home runs in the bottom of the third. Otherwise, he was tough. He walked none and struck out 11.

Connor Brogdon, Jose Alvarado and Nick Nelson followed with three innings of one-run ball to put the game away. The bullpen that Hoskins called “nasty” has allowed just five earned runs over its last 28⅔ innings for an ERA of 1.57.

The win, on manager Rob Thomson’s 59th birthday, was the 10,000th in franchise history. The Phils are the ninth team to do that. They lost their 10,000th game back in 2007 when Hoskins was a freshman in high school.

“The 10,000th win for the Phils,” he said good-naturedly. “Apart from baseball history. That’s a lot of wins. I know we have a lot of losses as an organization, but that’s a lot of wins.”

Hoskins’ two-homer night left him with 26 on the season. He had 27 last year, 29 in 2019, 34 in 2018 and 18 in just 50 games as a rookie in 2017.

“To be able to provide a power bat in the lineup is something I take pride in,” he said. “It’s a cool thing, not the whole thing, but a cool thing and I take pride in it.”

The Phillies are 65-51 and in control of the second NL wild-card spot. They have beaten the Reds two nights in a row and will go for a three-game sweep Wednesday afternoon behind Ranger Suarez before an off day Thursday and a four-game series against the New York Mets that starts Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies’ pitching staff has not walked a batter in the first two games of this series.

Gibson will be a free agent in the offseason and though he will turn 35 in October, he will have a market as a stabilizer at the back end of a rotation. He is putting together a nice little salary drive with four straight quality starts and six in his last seven outings. His slider was excellent Tuesday night. He got eight of his 15 swings and misses on the pitch.

The key to Gibson’s recent success has been keeping things simple.

“I’ve tried to simplify the game plan a little,” he said. “Every now and then when you have four or five pitches like I do, you can complicate the game plan a little bit. I feel like I was attacking hitters’ weaknesses a little too much instead of pitching to my strengths and I’m doing that now.”

Putting the ball in good spots is a must for Gibson.

“When he’s throwing strikes and dotting his fastball, everything else plays up,” Thomson said. “He’s been very good.”

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