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“I always think he’s going to do something special the deeper he goes into the count,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.
Hoskins’ plate appearance against Baez in the seventh seemed to be one of his most satisfying of the season because it not only came in a big spot, but against a team trying to wrap up its fifth consecutive National League West championship.
“The experience for some of us young guys is pretty invaluable,” Hoskins said.
Baez had struggled the entire inning. J.P. Crawford started with his first Major League triple. Baez then hit Jorge Alfaro on the hand with a pitch to put runners at the corners. He walked Cesar Hernandez to load the bases with one out and walked Odubel Herrera with two outs to score the tying run.
Baez’s first pitch to Hoskins came high and inside, a 97-mph fastball that bent Hoskins backward. But the first baseman quickly got ahead, 3-1, when he took a called strike to run the count to 3-2. Hoskins fouled off the sixth pitch, the only pitch he chased well outside the strike zone.
“I probably swung at ball four, but I guess hindsight is 20-20,” Hoskins said. “It’s a good thing I swung at it.”
“He was fouling balls off at his neck,” Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola said. “So you get a ball a little bit lower, you knew he was going to time it up finally.”
Hoskins fouled off the next three pitches, each of them either too close to take or in the zone. Asked if he was surprised Baez never threw an offspeed pitch — he throws a slider or changeup a little more than 25 percent of the time — Hoskins said, “If he makes a pitch with one of his offspeed pitches there, well, that’s baseball, you’ve got to kind of tip your cap to him if he can make a good pitch. That’s kind of the approach I had.”
Baez’s 10th pitch of the at-bat was a 97-mph fastball down and away, only the second pitch of the at-bat that was clearly in the strike zone.
Hoskins, who singled to score a run in the sixth, has 43 RBIs in his first 39 career games. Only Albert Pujols had more RBIs (44) in the first 39 big league games. Just behind Hoskins in third place? Joe DiMaggio, who had 42 RBIs in 1936.
“He made some good pitches too with good strikes, not really anything in the middle of the plate,” Hoskins said. “I was just lucky enough to put a good swing on the last one.”
Hoskins clapped his hands and pointed into the dugout after he reached second base. He was pumped.
“Big situation against a pretty good team,” he said. “I think the 10-pitch at-bat probably had something to do with it.”
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Philadelphia News & Search