Years from now when they roll highlights of the 2022 Phillies‘ postseason run, the clip of Rhys Hoskins demolishing a ball into the left-field seats, raising both arms, and jabbing his bat — and let’s be clear: that was a Jalen Hurts-quality jab — will play prominently.
It should. In addition to being the longest 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 best-of-five National League Division Series and may prove to be the blowout that broke it. the defending World Series champions.
Talk about an instantly iconic Philadelphia sports moment.
“Guy’s been here since the beginning of his career,” said backup catcher Garrett Stubbs, who was referring to Hoskins but may also have been talking about home run ace Aaron Nola’s latest gem that pushed the Phillies to the brink of reaching the NL Championship Series. . “To be in his first postseason and go hit a home run like that — home for the first one [game] in how many years — oof. It’s terrifying.”
But if we’re talking about the moment playoff baseball truly returned to Citizens Bank Park after an 11-year absence, when the decibel levels at the ballpark in South Philly rose like they hadn’t since, what, Roy Halladay’s no-hitter. in the 2010 NLDS, you have to rewind the tape of two batters.
You have to go back to Bryson Stott.
Hoskins was not yet in the on-deck circle in the third inning when the rookie shortstop dug in against flame-throwing Braves starter Spencer Strider. The first pitch was low and gone. The next two were called strikes. Another ball. Then, as Strider reached back for whatever velocity he could still muster in his first start in 26 days, Stott fouled off four fastballs in a row, the sellout crowd of 45,538 getting louder each time.
Considering he sped up Stott’s bat, Strider turned off the heat. He threw a slider, 86 mph and not low enough, and Stott lined it into right field for a double that scored Brandon Marsh for the game’s first run.
Follow the delirium.
“The atmosphere was crazy,” Stott said. “I’m finally hearing, so that’s good. They said they would show up, and they did.”
Said manager Rob Thomson: “I think the at-bat that really got us going was Stott’s at-bat, the way he grinded and ground, making pitches dirty.”
Delirium turned to bad luck with Hoskins’ three-run home run 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 smattering of boos when his name was called during pregame introductions.
But now, Hoskins jumped in the air and smashed elbows with Stott. He slapped hands with Kyle Schwarber. The crowd stood. Red rally cloths waved.
Just like the old days.
How loud was it? Stott wears a headset to hear the signs of catcher JT Realmuto. He had to turn the volume up to 20. His usual setting: 8.
“And I still had to cover it to hear what pitch was coming,” Stott said.
When Bryce Harper hoisted a two-run homer to cap the six-run third inning, the ground practically shook beneath his neon green Phanatic cleats.
The crowd roared again as Nola walked off the mound after allowing one unearned run on five hits in six innings. He hasn’t been charged with a run in 19⅓ innings over his last three starts, including 12⅓ in the postseason.
And the fans roared again after Connor Brogdon ended the game with a strikeout and the Phillies walked off the field to a chorus of Dancing On My Owntheir adopted postseason anthem.
Red October? you bet With 11 years of pent up emotion to boot.
“Absolutely crazy,” Harper said. “Electric. Nothing I ever dreamed of. It was… oh I shivered again because that was incredibly cool. I hope it will be like this 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 wildcard round all the way down the road.
But after ending an 11-year playoff drought by claiming the last NL wild card and defeating the St. Louis Cardinals for their first postseason series win in 12 years, the Phillies are on the verge of reaching 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 could get on the field, we tried to win, trying to get back to where we are now.”
The Braves didn’t reveal their Game 3 starter until about seven hours before first pitch. In going with Strider, they took a calculated risk. He hasn’t pitched since Sept. 18 because of a strained muscle in his side.
But Strider was Phillies kryptonite. They went 7-for-74 against the rookie sensation in three regular-season meetings. He throws mostly fastballs, but, as Alec Bohm said a few months ago, his heater is “different.”
For two innings, Strider overwhelmed the Phillies, lighting up the radar gun with 97s and 98s, even touching 100.6 mph, and retired the first six batters on 29 pitches.
But when he returned for the third inning, his fastball came out at 95 and 96. He walked Marsh on four pitches. He lacked the whip to remove Stott.
“That was the first time he would throw some at 95,” Stott said. “He was always 98 to 100 against us. He threw a couple and we were able to get to 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 out the first pitch Friday after the highlight of his home run played on Phanavision. The crowd roared then, just as they ever will for Hoskins.
“From the first pitch, it was nuts,” Stott said. “We heard about how special it was here during the playoffs. It certainly didn’t disappoint.”
Neither did the Phillies.