NEW YORK — There was no beanbrawl between the Phillies and Mets here at Citi Field on Wednesday night. But then there really wasn’t much need for one.
Rhys Hoskins found a more appropriate method of revenge.
One night after fuming over a pair of up-and-in fastballs near his head in a blowout loss, Hoskins got a second chance to face Mets reliever Jacob Rhame in another ninth inning. This time, Rhame hung a 95 mph heater and Hoskins lifted it into the first row of seats beyond the left-field fence to cap the scoring in the Phillies’ had-to-have-it 6-0 victory.
And then Hoskins took the ultimate victory lap, turning his usual home-run trot into practically a walk. He took 34.23 seconds to circle the bases, slower than even former Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon's 30.5-second lap after a home run in 2016.
"I enjoyed the moment. Just enjoyed the moment," Hoskins said. "It was a good thing to put an exclamation point on a win like that when you really needed it. I think that's what everyone in here is most excited about."
Indeed, winning a game was the most important thing for the Phillies, who avoided a sweep by their division rival, snapped a three-game losing streak and capped a frustrating 2-5 road trip to Colorado and New York that would've seemed infinitely worse if they hadn't salvaged the finale.
They won on the right arm of No. 5 starter Vince Velasquez, who provided five shutout innings in another solid outing and lowered his ERA to 1.99. The Phillies got stellar relief, too, from Pat Neshek, Seranthony Dominguez and Adam Morgan before Juan Nicasio finished things off after Hoskins busted the game open.
For seven innings, though, the Phillies clung to a one-run lead. They weren’t able to generate much offense against Mets lefty Jason Vargas, who entered with a 9.58 ERA in three starts so far this season. It wasn’t until the eighth inning against reliever Robert Gsellman that the Phillies kicked it into gear, scoring three runs to give breathing room to the bullpen.
And now, the Phillies are headed back to Citizens Bank Park to open a nine-game homestand that begins with four games against the last-place Miami Marlins and two interleague contests with the rebuilding Detroit Tigers. Moreover, they expect injured shortstop Jean Segura to return to the lineup possibly as soon as Saturday or Sunday.
For all the pregame conversation about the Phillies exacting a pound of flesh on Hoskins’ behalf, Velasquez said he was more concerned with shutting down the Mets. He hit Todd Frazier on the fleshy part of his upper left arm in the fourth inning, but although home-plate umpire Brian Gorman issued warnings to both dugouts, it was clear that Velasquez didn’t intend to put the leadoff man on base in a one-run game.
"I figured there would be some type of warning, but I never had the intentions of going out there and hitting a guy, especially when the game's that close," Velasquez said. "Last thing you want to do is jeopardize your start or cut it short."
Before the game, the Phillies were still annoyed by Rhame's high-and-tight pitches from the night before. Hoskins said it might have served to wake them up after a pair of lackluster performances in the first two games of the series.
Then again, averting a sweep that would've pushed their record back to .500 should have been motivation enough.
There’s been a lot made about this, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to go on and play the baseball game the way you would normally play the baseball game,” Hoskins said. “I think it was good for us. A couple of guys, I think, said the phrase, ‘Don’t poke the sleeping bear.’ It seemed to be that the last couple of innings was a pretty good indication that that may have happened.”
Said manager Gabe Kapler: “Look, I think that if a ball goes over your head the night before, the best way to sort of get back at the pitcher is to put the ball in the seats,. I thought that it was worthy of [Hoskins] having that moment and really taking it all in, soaking it all in. He deserved that. I thought he earned it.”
The Phillies and Mets play 13 more times this season, but not again until June 24-27 at Citizens Bank Park. A lot can happen between now and then, but surely, Hoskins’ trip around the bases means the grudge between the longtime NL East rivals is to be continued.