SAN FRANCISCO — Ben Lively, recalled Sunday from triple-A Lehigh Valley to pitch opposite Madison Bumgarner, stepped into the visitors dugout at AT&T Park for the first time in his life. The 25-year-old righthander felt at ease. He saw five of his IronPigs teammates in the Phillies’ lineup.
“Dude,” Lively told Rhys Hoskins, “this is a really familiar dugout.”
A 5-2 win over the Giants materialized Sunday in the eighth inning with six Phillies singles hit, five of which were hit by the IronPigs contingent. Lively pitched six solid innings in his return to the rotation. Pedro Florimon, a 30-year-old infielder who had never played outfield until this season, drove in three runs and threw out a Giants runner at home. The bullpen navigated some tight situations.
So the Phillies flew home with two wins from their seven-day excursion in California. Most of the baseball was forgettable. But it was during those tedious innings that the Phillies began to learn about Rhys Hoskins and Jorge Alfaro.
The rookies, so far, have belonged.
“This is normal for me,” Alfaro said. He laughed. “Rhys and I crushing balls together. It’s fun to see it now, here.”
It is. They were catalysts in the eighth-inning rally Sunday. Hoskins capped it all with a solo homer in the ninth inning. It was his fifth homer on this trip. He reached base 13 times in those seven games. That is quite the first impression.
Hoskins was hitless in his first 12 at-bats with the Phillies. He is 9 for 26 with six walks since. He batted in better counts in the last week. The results showed.
“As much as I want to say I wasn’t trying to get the first one out of the way, I think it’s probably pretty obvious that’s what it was,” Hoskins said. “I just wanted to settle in the box and feel more comfortable in the box and realize it really is the same game — 60 feet, 6 inches — still have to throw the ball over the plate. So I think that has a lot to do with it.”
Alfaro, promoted not because of his performance at triple A but because the Phillies needed another catcher, started four times on the trip and collected five hits. He has a hit in every game he’s played this season.
He stepped to the plate in the eighth inning having struck out five times in his previous six at-bats. Alfaro fell behind, 0-2, when he whiffed at a Hunter Strickland slider in the dirt. He took a tempting high fastball for a ball. Strickland tried to come inside with a 95-mph fastball. Alfaro poked it to the opposite field for a game-tying single to score Hoskins, who singled earlier in the inning.
“That was a good at-bat,” manager Pete Mackanin said.
“Just trying to put the ball in play,” Alfaro said. “It worked.”
The Phillies, after Sunday, will not play another game this season outside the eastern time zone. They traveled 10,397 miles in the first 20 days of August. They flew home Sunday night, and it was a happy flight — if not a confused one because of what Buster Posey said about them.
Hector Neris entered a two-run game with runners on first and second. There were two outs in the eighth inning. He hit Posey with his first pitch, a fastball. Posey, who has a 22-game hitting streak against the Phillies, was not happy. He jawed at Neris. The benches almost cleared. Then Neris struck out Pablo Sandoval to escape the inning.
“I’m pretty certain he hit me on purpose and it’s just a shame because I wanted to compete in that at-bat,” Posey told reporters afterward. “I guess he didn’t feel he could get me out.”
That accusation was met with laughter in the Phillies clubhouse. Neris said there was “no chance” he threw at Posey.
“It’s stupid because nobody who watched that said, ‘Oh he hit him on purpose in that situation,’ ” Neris said. “Especially in that inning in the game, I’m going for the save to help my team win. I want to do my job. I go in and attack him because I want a ground ball for the double play.”
Whatever. The Phillies have other things to think about, like their two 24-year-old prospects. A week in California offered a taste of what the future could resemble.