Good morning, Phillies fans. Your team is back to .500 for the first time since the second game of the season. The Phillies will try to complete a sweep — for the second time in four days — tonight when they host the Reds. Aaron Nola pitched a gem last night, J.P. Crawford came through in the clutch, and Scott Kingery hit the first grand slam of his career. The Phils have won two straight series and four of their last five games. They will start a favorable series Friday against Tampa Bay. Don’t look now, but the Phillies might be starting to roll.
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Kingery’s slam was ‘pretty cool’
With the bases loaded, Scott Kingery knew Reds reliever Tanner Rainey would have to throw strikes, figuring the pitcher did not want to walk in a run. But he didn’t expect to get the same pitch twice in a row. Kingery jumped on the second slider he saw Tuesday night to hit his first career grand slam.
He is the 16th Phillie to hit a grand slam for his first or second career homer, and he joins Chase Utley and Nick Williams as the only ones to do it since 1998. It was Kingery’s second consecutive game with a homer, and he has a .872 OPS through his first 34 plate appearances. Kingery started Tuesday at third base and has started this season at three positions but has yet to start at his natural spot, second base. Gabe Kapler has moved Kingery around the diamond to get him everyday playing time without an everyday position. The lineup is like a puzzle, Kapler said.
The slam, Kingery said, was “pretty cool.” It secured Aaron Nola’s first win of the season, and the pitcher was asked afterward what has impressed him about Kingery so far.
“Nothing really right now,” Nola said. “I’ve seen him in spring training the past two years doing what he’s doing right now. The guy is a competitor; he does it all. Tonight was pretty cool to see a really clutch hit.”
J.P. Crawford sat out Monday’s game to work on things after a rough start to the season. He spent two afternoons with hitting coach John Mallee trying to rework his swing. The work paid off Tuesday as Crawford’s second hit of the season was a game-winning single in the seventh.
The Phillies conducted an open search over the last two weeks for a lefthanded pitcher to throw batting practice. They already have a cast of righthanded throwers and wanted a lefthanded arm to give the hitters a different pregame look. The Phillies have compiled a list from applicants who submitted YouTube highlight reels.
Rhys Hoskins has already shown enough to be considered a superstar, David Murphy writes. Hoskins has the highest percentage of plate appearances (30.8) over the last two seasons that have ended in a walk or an extra-base hit. The Cheese says Hoskins “is the guy who ensures that the rebuild is over.”
Catch up on what the Phillies minor-league affiliates did last night thanks to Ed Barkowitz’s roundup. Enyel De Los Santos, the pitcher acquired from San Diego for Freddy Galvis, struck out seven in five innings as he made his debut at double A.
Tonight: Phillies go for the sweep on PHL17, 7:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: The Phillies are off
Friday: Phillies open series in Tampa Bay, 7:10 p.m.
Saturday: Jake Arrieta’s second start, 6:10 p.m.
Stat of the day
This one was pointed out by the great Bob Brookover last night as we left the ballpark. The Phillies have scored five or more runs in six of their 10 games this season. They didn’t have their sixth five-run game last season until the 19th game. The offense this season seems to be much improved over the cast that opened last season. And it’s worth noting that the offense has been producing on some cold nights in temperatures not usually conducive to hitting.
From the mailbag
When do you think the Phillies will host the All-Star Game? – email question
Answer: The Phillies don’t expect to host an All-Star Game until 2026, when the U.S. celebrates its 250th birthday. That will likely mirror what happened in Philly in 1976 for the bicentennial when the city hosted the MLB, NHL and NBA All-Star Games and the NCAA Final Four. Expect all the All-Star Games to return in 2026 and a possible World Cup game if the U.S., Canada and Mexico win their bid. That’s a long ways off, but it should be a fun year.