Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins could not have announced his return to the lineup with much more authority.
After missing the previous 14 games because of a groin injury, the 28-year-old launched his 25th and 26th home runs of the season in the Phillies’ 7-4 win over the San Diego Padres — a vital rubber-game triumph that helped erase the taste of a disappointing sweep at the hands of the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks to start the team’s six-game west-coast road trip.
“Great [to be back],” Hoskins said. “That was a pretty big series win for us, especially the way the road trip started… We’re trying to chase these guys down in the Wild Card, so that’s a good team. That’s a playoff-caliber team. To beat them at home is something we should be proud of. Always good to win a series going into an off day.”
While the Phillies are five games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East, they sit five back of the Cincinnati Reds for the final NL Wild Card spot, one that sees the Padres four games better than Philadelphia.
The boost that Hoskins provides is an immeasurable one to re-establish the Phillies’ hopes of contending, though manager Joe Girardi previewed some caution that might be displayed with the slugger, lifting him in the eighth inning.
“It’s a big impact,” Girardi said of Hoskins’ return. “He swung the bat well, he walked once. We just took him out as a precaution. It was nothing that we needed to take him out for. We were just doing that to protect him… It was a big impact on our lineup.”
His return didn’t come a moment too soon, either.
“The right time was as soon as we could get him back. I would’ve taken him back a week ago,” Girardi joked. “We need him… We’ll check in on him [Monday] to see how he’s doing and we’ll get back to it on Tuesday.”
With Hoskins back in the fold, a full-strength Phillies lineup has the easiest remaining schedule in baseball — which at least promises the hope that they’ll make a strong push for a playoff spot as the regular-season finish line approaches.
“It’s huge, especially in the stretch run,” Hoskins said. “We’re probably going to play some more pressure-packed games. We have a healthy lineup, we’re not relying on one or two guys every single night and that’s what makes a lineup deep.
“We understand where we’re at… At the end of the day, if we take care of business, we’ll probably find ourselves where we want to be at the end of the year.”