Nick Williams appears to have found a more effective way to lobby Phillies manager Gabe Kapler for additional playing time.
Starting for the fourth time in six games after sitting out a game last week with a sore wrist, Williams had a big day at the plate in a 9-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies. He homered in the second inning, doubled in the sixth and drew a walk in a four-run seventh that broke open the game.
“I thought Nick’s at-bats were sensational today,” Kapler said. “The walk was really impressive, as well.”
Williams entered the season knowing he would be splitting time in right field with righty-hitting Aaron Altherr. But when he didn’t play as often as he would have liked during the season’s first week, Williams derided Kapler’s fondness for analytics by claiming he must not be popular among the computers that make out the lineup. At one point, he was playing so infrequently that it was worth wondering if the Phillies should send him to triple-A to get regular at-bats.
But Williams excelled in a bench role and played his way into more at-bats by being productive as a pinch-hitter. He has eight homers in 148 at-bats overall and leads the Phillies in home-run frequency, going deep once every 18.5 at-bats. It’s little surprise that the right-field rotation with Altherr (six homers in 165 at-bats) is evening out.
Kapler now uses Williams as an example for other players who are biding their time to get into the lineup on a regular basis.
“Nick, when he wasn’t playing regularly, he was still getting pinch-hit at-bats,” Kapler said. “He was still getting into games via the double switch. And guys need to be prepared to play every single day on this club.”
THE HOSKINS EFFECT
Rhys Hoskins was mired in a month-long slump when he fouled a pitch off his face and broke his jaw May 29 in Los Angeles But at least Hoskins was in the lineup.
Even before he went 3 for 5 with a double, a homer and three RBI against the Rockies, Hoskins had driven in five runs in the previous four games since his return last weekend. And if having Hoskins back proves anything, it’s that his mere presence in the No. 2 spot makes a difference to the Phillies’ offense.
“Guys see his at-bats, how he grinds his at-bats up there,” hitting coach John Mallee said. “When he comes up there, there’s a good chance he’s going to put the ball in the seats or get a walk or do something to make a difference. I think the energy from him flows into the other guys.”
Hoskins continues to insist that it’s coincidental that his uptick has come after a 10-day stint on the disabled list.
“I don’t know that it has anything to do with the injury. I don’t think it does,” Hoskins said. “I haven’t changed anything. I think [his luck] finally just starting to flip the other way.”
For the first time since May 9, the Phillies batted the pitcher eighth, a move designed to get a hitter who reaches base at a high rate in front of the top of the order. J.P. Crawford batted in the No. 9 spot and went 1 for 3 with a walk. … Righthander Vince Velasquez didn’t allow a hit through 6 2/3 innings, marking the fourth time this season that a Phillies starter has taken a no-hitter through at least the fifth inning. … Jim Thome’s daughter, Lila, performed the national anthem. … The Phillies honored famed U.S. Air Force pilot Chuck Yeager between innings. Yeager, 95, became the first pilot to break the sound barrier in 1947.