Mark Leiter Jr.

Phillies-Dodgers thoughts: Rhys Hoskins refuses to go into a slump

usa-rhys-hoskins-phillies-dodgers.jpg
USA Today Images

Phillies-Dodgers thoughts: Rhys Hoskins refuses to go into a slump

Phillies (60-91) vs. Dodgers (96-55)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

Well, this series hasn't gone as planned.

Despite facing Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish, the Phillies have beaten the Dodgers on back-to-back nights to force at least a split. 

For L.A., it continues a miserable four-week stretch. The Dodgers were 91-36 on Aug. 25 and have gone 4-19 since.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are 31-33 since the All-Star break and 17-14 since Aug. 6.

More on tonight's game and the series in general:

• Last night was yet another fantastic game for Rhys Hoskins, who hit the game-deciding three-run double, drove in four runs in all and reached base three times. 

It appeared Hoskins was going into a slump after he went 0 for 11 with six strikeouts against the Athletics this past weekend, but he's responded by reaching base in five of seven plate appearances against the Dodgers. 

Through 39 games, Hoskins has hit .299/.428/.739 with five doubles, 18 homers and 43 RBIs. He has 29 walks and 33 strikeouts.

Odubel Herrera hit his 40th double of the season last night, becoming the first Phillie since Jayson Werth in 2010 to reach 40. 

The Phils had just one player hit 40 doubles in 2008 (Chase Utley), 2009 (Jimmy Rollins) and 2010 (Werth) and then none from 2011-16.

• Another scoreless inning last night from Luis Garcia, who's allowed one run in his last 18 appearances and has a 2.43 ERA in 61 games.

Nick Williams picked up his 11th infield single of the season last night. That kind of speed will allow him to maintain a higher batting average on balls in play than most players (see story).

• The Phillies face left-hander Alex Wood, who's had a career year. Wood is 15-3 with a 2.69 ERA in 140⅓ innings this season, with 144 strikeouts, 37 walks and just 13 home runs allowed. 

Lefties and righties alike have struggled against Wood, but he's been much more hittable since the All-Star break. Wood had a 1.56 ERA in the first half and has a 4.07 ERA since.

In his last start, Wood shut out the Nationals over six innings with eight strikeouts. In his previous three starts, he allowed 12 runs and six homers in 17 innings.

• Two Phillies, in particular, have seen Wood well: Freddy Galvis is 7 for 13 with a double; Cesar Hernandez is 5 for 11 with a double and three walks. 

Jake Thompson starts for the Phillies. He's 2-2 with a 4.46 ERA in nine games (six starts). He put 10 Marlins on base in 5⅓ innings in his last start but didn't allow a run.

• The Phillies would need to go 2-9 or worse the rest of the way to reach 100 losses. If the season ended today they'd pick second in the 2018 draft. The Giants are 1½ games worse.

Phillies-Athletics observations: Offense quieted by Daniel Mengden in 2-hit shutout

Phillies-Athletics observations: Offense quieted by Daniel Mengden in 2-hit shutout

BOX SCORE

The Phillies were done in Friday night by an unorthodox pitcher and the Oakland Athletics’ version of Rhys Hoskins. 

Matt Olson hit his 15th homer in 30 games, a 483-foot, two-run blast off Mark Leiter Jr. in the first inning, and Daniel Mengden pitched a two-hitter to lead the A’s to a 4-0 victory at Citizens Bank Park that snapped the Phils’ three-game winning streak. 

While Hoskins was befuddled by Mengden and his funky delivery in an 0-for-3 night with two strikeouts (see story), Olson continued his torrid pace. The rookie sent Leiter’s 90-mph fastball more than halfway up the second deck in right field. It was his 19th homer in 51 games. 

Matt Joyce hit a two-run homer in the second off Leiter (3-6), who then settled down and matched a career high with nine strikeouts in six innings. 

Mengden, who sports an old-school handlebar mustache and even older-looking double-clutch windup, allowed two singles to J.P. Crawford and no walks in his first career complete game. 

• Hoskins, who entered with a major-league record 18 homers in his first 34 games, struggled to time Mengden’s strange delivery. The rookie chased a pitch in the dirt for strike three in the second and fanned looking on three pitches in the fourth. He grounded out sharply to second in the seventh to snap his homer streak at three games. 

• Leiter’s nine strikeouts matched his performance Aug. 5 against Colorado. He allowed four earned runs and walked one in a 103-pitch outing. 

• Mengden (1-1) had never faced any active Phillies player, and it showed. While he has had limited success and was just called up Sept. 5, his style kept the Phillies off-balance. The righty struck out seven and sat down the final 11 batters. 

• Ricardo Pinto worked out of a jam in a scoreless seventh and Kevin Siegrest struck out two in a perfect eighth. Zac Curtis struck out two and walked one in a hitless eighth in his Phillies' debut. 

• Mengden retired the first seven Phillies' hitters until Crawford singled to left. Crawford singled to right in the sixth. Aaron Altherr’s flyout to deep left was the closest the Phillies came to scoring in their first shutout since Aug. 16 at San Diego. 

• Crawford made his second start at shortstop and couldn’t make a backhand play of Mengden’s grounder in the second. Instead of the third out, the ball bounced off Crawford’s glove for Mengden’s first major-league hit. Right after a fan yelled “Freddy Galvis makes that play,” Joyce hit a two-run shot to right to make it 4-0. 

• Andrew Knapp made his first start at catcher since Aug. 3 following a broken hand and had no issues behind the plate. 

• It was the Athletics’ first game here since 2011. The Philadelphia A’s left town after the 1954 season, moving to Kansas City before ending up in Oakland. Playing interleague games this late in the season felt odd on both sides. 

“We obviously have some history here as far as our organization goes and that’s kind of cool, but our interleague [schedule] was kind of broken up,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s two teams that really don’t know a whole lot about each other.”

And the Phillies never did figure out Mengden. 

• The Phillies must go 6-9 the rest of the way to avoid 100 losses. 

• Phillies RHP Ben Lively (3-6, 3.86 ERA) faces RHP Kendall Graveman (5-4, 4.48) on Saturday night.

Phillies-Nationals observations: Hoskins goes deep as Phils hold off Nats

usa-rhys-hoskins-phillies.jpg
USA Today Images

Phillies-Nationals observations: Hoskins goes deep as Phils hold off Nats

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON -- Rhys Hoskins homered again and drew three walks and Mark Leiter Jr. notched the pitching victory as the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals, 5-4, on Saturday night.

The Phillies got strong bullpen work from Edubray Ramos, Luis Garcia and Hector Neris in making a one-run lead stand up in the late innings. Neris got the final two outs with the potential tying run on second.

• Leiter Jr. allowed four runs over six innings and left with a 5-4 lead. Leiter took a two-run lead to the mound in the sixth and allowed a pair of no-out singles, prompting a visit from pitching coach Bob McClure. Leiter then retired the next two batters on fly balls to center. He then gave up an RBI single to Michael A. Taylor as the Nats pulled to within a run before retiring pinch-hitter Adam Lind for the final out.

• Reliever Ramos has pitched well — and with a lot of confidence — since coming back from the minors. He registered a pair of strikeouts in protecting a one-run lead in the seventh. His second strikeout came on a hard-biting breaking ball to the dangerous Howie Kendrick and stranded the potential tying run at second. Ramos has struck out 23 and walked just five in 16 2/3 innings since coming back from Triple A. He has the stuff to be a force late in games. Lately, he has been.

• Reliever Garcia struck out the side in the eighth, getting three tough customers in Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon with a combination of fastballs and hard sliders. One of Garcia's fastballs registered 100 mph. Garcia has long had a great arm and tantalized Phillies officials with his potential. The team's patience with him might pay off. He has allowed just one run in his last 14 appearances and just eight in his last 39 innings.

• The Phillies got solo home runs from Hoskins and Maikel Franco in the second inning. Hoskins was on base four times with the homer and three walks. His bases-loaded walk in the fourth delivered a run. He also stole his first base as a big-leaguer. He had just 19 steals in 455 games in the minors.

• Hoskins has 14 homers in 30 big-league games. That's the most homers ever by a player who made his big-league debut after August 1.

• Franco has homered in two straight games since being held out of the starting lineup three straight games.

• Odubel Herrera had a tough night. He left seven men on base and saw his 21-game hitting streak end. That was the longest in the majors this season.

• J.P. Crawford did not start after playing the previous four games, three at third base and one at shortstop. He could get his first start at second base on Sunday. Crawford pinch-hit in the eighth inning against Joe Blanton and stuck out on a breaking ball.

• Aaron Atherr has been cleared to play. In fact, he entered as a defensive sub in left field in the ninth inning. Manager Pete Mackanin said there was a possibility Altherr would start in the outfield on Sunday afternoon, which is good news for fans who've been clamoring to see him play over Hyun Soo Kim. Altherr has not had an at-bat since August 4 when he went on the disabled list with a hamstring strain.

• Heard a couple of Eagles chants in the stands. The Birds, of course, open up down this way Sunday. (Personal note: Hope the Birds go undefeated, but it's must-see TV when Michael B. goes nuts on the postgame show after they lose.)

• Rookie Ben Lively (3-5, 3.92) pitches against Washington's Stephen Strasburg in the series finale on Sunday afternoon. Strasburg is 12-4 with a 2.78 ERA in 24 starts. Over his last three starts, he has worked 21 scoreless innings, walked just two and struck out 23. It won't be an easy assignment for the Phillies.