If the Philadelphia Phillies hope to advance to the postseason for the first time since 2011, their offense will need to produce like they did on Sunday.
Rhys Hoskins’ return from a groin injury might have been the jolt they needed.
Hoskins ripped two home runs in his first game since Aug. 5 and the Phillies took two of three from the San Diego Padres with a 7-4 win Sunday.
But the Phillies still find themselves comfortably behind the National League-East leading Atlanta Braves as they begin a crucial two-game home series Tuesday against the powerful Tampa Bay Rays.
The Phillies had dropped eight of 11 before Sunday to fall significantly in the standings.
“We have a healthy lineup,” Hoskins said. “We’re not relying on one or two guys every single night. That’s, I think, what makes the lineup deep. We got a lot of different contributions today, and I think that you kind of see that throughout the game with the quality of bats.”
The Phillies averaged 2.86 runs per game without Hoskins in the 14 games he missed.
“The right time was as soon as we could get him back,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said of Hoskins. “I would have taken him back a week ago.”
Philadelphia will send Ranger Suarez (5-4, 1.47 ERA) to the mound Tuesday night. Suarez, a converted reliever, has faced the Rays just once in his career and that came this season. He pitched one-third of an inning on May 30, allowing a hit and a walk.
“In every single role that he’s been in for us the last two years, three years, he’s done an incredible job,” Bryce Harper said of Suarez.
The red-hot Rays swept a four-game series from the Baltimore Orioles and then won two of three against the Chicago White Sox, including a 9-0 victory on Sunday.
Despite a litany of injuries, the Rays have moved 29 games above .500 for the best record in the American League. Ji-Man Choi (hamstring), Chris Archer (hip) and Nelson Cruz (COVID list) are the latest players to be sidelined, but the Rays just continue to win.
“We know how important those guys are,” Wander Franco said of the three most recent players out of the lineup. “But we also know that, if somebody goes down, we have everybody who can work to make up for that lost person.”
“Look, that’s what these guys do,” manager Kevin Cash said. “They make the most and embrace the moment, whatever situation occurs. … It was just so crucial to us winning the game.”
The Rays are one of the most fundamentally sound teams in all of MLB, no matter who’s playing.
“We’ve got a lot of options on any day, any night, to put together a really, really good lineup that can tax any pitching staff,” Cash said.
Drew Rasmussen (1-1, 3.64) is scheduled to start for the Rays. Rasmussen has made two career appearances against the Phillies, both this season, with five strikeouts in three scoreless innings.
–Field Level Media