May was not the best season for the 25-29 Philadelphia Phillies. They’ll try and make June more successful starting Tuesday night against the 24-28 Cincinnati Reds.
Here’s what to watch:
Hoskins stays hot, while Phillies stay cold
The Phillies are not playing well at all, but it’s not first baseman Rhys Hoskins’ fault.
While Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto were limited to a combined total of just 28 games in the month of May, Hoskins played in all 28 of them, starting all but one. He hit .302 with a .398 on-base percentage, five doubles, three homers, and 17 RBIs.
“I’m really proud of Rhys and how he stepped up for this club,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Him and Jean (Segura). Both of them.
“Rhys is using the whole field extremely well and his numbers climbed. He’s had big hits for us and big homers for us. He’s been in the lineup every day. Those two guys have really stepped up. Rhys has grinded it out. We’ve played a lot of baseball and he’s been in there every day. God knows where we’d be without him.”
Even with Hoskins and Segura — Segura hit .310 with two homers, seven RBIs and a .370 on-base percentage in May — swinging it well, the Phillies had a horrible month of May. They went 12-16 in the month to go from first place and a game up in the division to third place and five games back.
Back on May 7, the Phillies ran a season-best winning streak to five games and were a game up in first place in the division. Since then, they are 7-14. They have lost nine of their last 12 and are a season-worst four games under .500 (25-29) entering Tuesday night.
The Phillies lost the first game of the series, 11-1, on Monday afternoon. Their weak offense went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. They have scored just 13 runs in the last six games. Hoskins has driven in four of those runs. He has two homers over that span. One helped win a game in Miami and the other would have if a season-long weakness — defense — didn’t rear its head in the eighth inning.
“There’s probably some times where it’s obvious that we’re frustrated, right?” Hoskins said after Monday’s loss, the team’s third in a row. “Nobody likes to go through stretches like this. But that’s kind of part of a long season. We’ve got to find a way to pick each other up and weather the storm.”
Girardi was more straightforward.
“It’s not early. It’s not,” he said after Monday’s loss. “We need to turn it around. And I know we’re missing some guys, but other teams are missing guys, too. We just need to play better. We need to do all three facets of the game better. If not, we’re putting ourselves in a tough spot.”
Hoskins raised his batting average from .231 to .256 in May. His on-base percentage went from .273 to .336. He leads the club with 11 homers and 31 RBIs.
The Phillies face a big test in June, 14 games within the NL East and a six-game West Coast trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco, where the Dodgers and Giants are a combined 24 games over .500.
If the Phils are going to emerge from their current skid, Hoskins and Segura need to continue producing, but they will need help. Realmuto is back from the injured list, but Harper and Didi Gregorius remain. Harper (forearm contusion) will be eligible to return Wednesday, but that won’t happen. He could return during a homestand that begins Friday. Gregorius, out with a bone bruise and swelling on his right elbow, does not appear to be as close as Harper.
Phillies starter Aaron Nola allowed one run in six innings Wednesday night against the Miami Marlins, but his past few starts have been uncharacteristic.
Since his April 18 complete game shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals, he is 2-3 with a 4.65 ERA in seven starts. The Phillies are 2-5 in that stretch.
Phillies starting lineup vs. Reds’ starter Sonny Gray:
- Odubel Herrera (L) CF
- Jean Segura (R) 2B
- Rhys Hoskins (R) 1B
- J.T. Realmuto (R) C
- Brad Miller (L) RF
- Andrew McCutchen (R) LF
- Alec Bohm (R) 3B
- Ronald Torreyes (R) SS
- Aaron Nola (R) P
Reds starting lineup vs. Phillies’ starter Aaron Nola:
- Eugenio Suarez (R) 3B
- Jesse Winker (L) LF
- Nick Castellanos (R) RF
- Tyler Stephenson (R) 1B
- Tyler Naquin (L) CF
- Kyle Farmer (R) SS
- Tucker Barnhart (L) C
- Jonathan India (R) 2B
- Sonny Gray (R) P