Years from now when they roll out the highlights of 2022 Phillies‘ postseason run, the clip of Rhys Hoskins demolishing a ball into the left field seats, raising both arms and spiking his bat – and let’s be clear: this was a Jalen Hurts quality peak – will play in good place.
It should. Besides being the hitst hit of Hoskins’ career, it sent the Phillies on their way to a 9-1 thrashing of the Atlanta Braves on Friday in Game 3 of the five-division League series. national and could prove to be the explosion that shattered the defending World Series champions.
Talk about an instantly iconic sporting moment in Philadelphia.
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“Guy’s been here since the start of his career,” said backup receiver Garrett Stubbs, who was referring to Hoskins but possibly also referring to the latest gem in local ace Aaron Nola who pushed the Phillies on the close to reaching the NL Championship Series. . “Being in your first playoffs and going to hit a home run like that – home for the first [game] in how many years — phew. It’s awesome.
But if we talk about when playoff baseball really returned to Citizens Bank Park after an 11-year absence, when decibel levels in the South Philly backyard soared like they haven’t since, what , Roy Halladay’s no-hitter in the 2010 NLDS, you have to rewind the two-hitter tape.
You need to go back to Bryson Stott.
Hoskins was not yet in the circle on the deck in the third inning when the rookie shortstop dug against Braves Spencer Strider Flamethrower. The first pitch was low and far. The next two were called strikes. Another ball. Then, with Strider building up to the speed he could still muster in his first start in 26 days, Stott fouled four fastballs in a row as the sold-out crowd of 45,538 grew ever larger. louder each time.
Thinking he was accelerating Stott’s bat, Strider lowered the fire. He threw a slider, 86 mph and not low enough, and Stott lined him up in right field for a brace that scored Brandon Marsh for the game’s first inning.
Cue the delirium.
“The atmosphere was crazy,” Stott said. “I can finally hear, so that’s good. They said they were going to show up, and they did.
Manager Rob Thomson said: “I think the stick that really got us going was Stott’s stick, how he was grinding and grinding, fouling pitches.”
The delirium turned into a ruckus with Hoskins’ three-point homer and sprint around the bases. The first baseman was 1 for 18 with six strikeouts in the playoffs. A ball went under his glove at a critical moment in Game 2. He heard a handful of boos when his name was called during pre-game introductions.
But now Hoskins has jumped in the air and smashed elbows with Stott. He clapped his hands with Kyle Schwarber. The crowd was standing. Waved red rally towels.
Like the good old times.
How strong was it? Stott wears an earpiece to hear signals from receiver JT Realmuto. He must have turned the volume up to 20. His usual setting: 8.
“And I still had to cover it to hear what pitch was coming,” Stott said.
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When Bryce Harper homered two runs to cap the third inning six runs, the ground practically shook under his neon green Phanatic cleats.
The crowd thundered again when Nola walked off the mound after allowing an unearned run on five hits in six innings. He hasn’t been charged with a run in 19⅓ innings in his last three starts, including 12⅓ in the postseason.
And the fans howled again after Connor Brogdon finished the game with a strikeout and the Phillies left the field to a chorus of Dancing alonetheir adopted post-season anthem.
Red October? You bet. With 11 years of repressed emotion as a bonus.
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“Absolutely insane,” Harper said. “Electric. Nothing I could have ever dreamed of. It was…wow. I still get chills because it was so unbelievably cool. Hopefully it will be like that for the next two weeks.
When the Phillies left on the evening of Sept. 25 for a season-ending 10-day road trip, no one knew if they would return. Even if they made the playoffs, they would play the wild card round entirely on the road.
But after ending an 11-year playoff drought by claiming the NL’s last wild card and beating the St. Louis Cardinals to their first playoff victory in 12 years, the Phillies are poised to reach the NLCS for the first time since 2010.
Who would have thought?
“Actually, we did,” Harper said. “I didn’t think there was any doubt. I really didn’t. Every time we’ve been able to get on the pitch, we’ve tried to win, trying to get back to where we are right now.
The Braves didn’t release their Game 3 starter until about seven hours before the first pitch. By going with Strider, they took a calculated risk. He hadn’t pitched since Sept. 18 due to a pulled muscle in his side.
But Strider was the Phillies’ kryptonite. They went 7 for 74 against the rookie sensation in three regular season meetings. He mainly throws fastballs, but, as Alec Bohm said a few months ago, his warmer is “different”.
For two innings, Strider overpowered the Phillies, firing the radar gun with 97s and 98s, even hitting 100.6 mph, and struck out the first six batters on 29 pitches.
But when he came back for the third inning, his fastball was coming out at 95 and 96. He walked Marsh on four pitches. It lacked the sizzle to put Stott away.
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“It was the first time he threw at 95,” Stott said. “It’s always been 98 to 100 against us. He threw a few and we were able to reach him.
Stott started it all. Like Brett Myers’ walk against CC Sabathia before Shane Victorino’s grand slam in the 2008 NLDS.
Victorino, coincidentally, threw the first pitch on Friday after the highlight of his home run played on Phanavision. The crowd then roared, just as it will one day for Hoskins.
“From the very first pitch, it was crazy,” Stott said. “We heard how special it was here during the playoffs. I certainly did not disappoint.”
Neither did the Phillies.