PHILADELPHIA — In a sport that often defies logic, Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Nick Castellanos had a simple explanation for the Phillies’ comeback from a disastrous top of the first inning Saturday in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series: “It’s tough to play in the jungle, man.”
After the San Diego Padres roared out of the gate with four runs in the first, the Phillies roared right back with three runs in the bottom of the first — on their way to a four-homer outburst in a 10-6 victory that put the Phillies one win away from reaching their first World Series since 2009.
“We knew the crowd was going to be a factor,” first baseman Rhys Hoskins said as the Phillies improved to 4-0 at Citizens Bank Park in the postseason while scoring 31 runs and hitting .313 — in a postseason where runs have otherwise been scarce. “We’re confident in that. We saw that in the NLDS. And we feel like it’s a big part of when you get those innings rolling, you get a couple guys on, it gets a little louder. You get the one big hit, it gets louder, and that’s where you can really snowball things.”
The top of the Phillies’ lineup was locked in all game long. Their top five hitters delivered big nights as they each got at least two hits or scored at least two runs, going a combined 9-for-18 with seven extra-base hits and all 10 runs scored. The biggest hero was Hoskins, who hit two crucial two-run home runs for a four-RBI game.
Hoskins’ first home run followed Kyle Schwarber‘s leadoff single in the bottom of the first, after the Padres had struck for a four-run outburst off Bailey Falter. Hoskins worked the count full against Padres starter Mike Clevinger, who threw a 94-mph fastball right down the middle that Hoskins drilled 384 feet to left-center.
“A lot of us said ’27 outs’ after the top of the first inning,” Hoskins said. “We’ve been down before. We knew with a bullpen game, the possibility of multiple guys having to be put in positions that they’re not used to being in, that we were going to have to slug. We did that tonight.”
His second home run was even more impressive. Padres left-hander Sean Manaea was on in relief, making his first appearance of the postseason. With the Padres leading 6-4, Schwarber worked a one-out walk and Padres manager Bob Melvin left in Manaea, who had a 6.44 ERA in the second half, to face the right-handed Hoskins.
With the count 1-1, Hoskins crushed a sinker at the knees, 417 feet with a 108.4-mph exit velocity to a similar area of the left-center stands. The home run tied the game and Citizens Bank Park exploded in a frenzy.
“There’s nobody on the team that deserves those moments more than Rhys,” Castellanos said. “He’s been here from the beginning, he’s been through a lot of losing here, he’s been through the hard times, so to be on this stage and to come through like this, I couldn’t be happier for him.”
It was the eighth two-homer game in Phillies postseason history and the first since Chase Utley in Game 5 of the 2009 World Series. While Hoskins said he appreciates baseball history — especially Phillies history and being mentioned alongside Utley and other greats from the team — in the past he has said he’s tired of hearing about the 2008 World Series champion club. He wants to make his own history.
Now he’s learning what 2008 was like.
“It feels like we’re living it, yeah. The red towels, it’s deafening loud, right? Like, yeah, just the whole scene. And as soon as you step on the field, really in batting practice, you can just kind of feel the electricity building,” he said. “I need some more. I need some more of it.”
For the Padres, Clevinger’s short outing — 15 pitches and no outs — left Melvin needing to get nine innings out of his bullpen.
“This was probably one of the worst days of my life,” Clevinger said. “That sums it up. It sucks.”
Nick Martinez pitched three perfect innings before Manaea entered in the fourth and allowed a run. He came back for a second inning of work in the fifth. After Hoskins’ home run tied the game, J.T. Realmuto walked and Bryce Harper lashed a ringing double to left-center to score Realmuto with the go-ahead run.
“I was going to try to get [Manaea] one time around the lineup,” Melvin explained. “I thought his stuff was better. He had 95. He had swings and misses when he got into the zone, but he couldn’t locate it. The second inning, four batters, five batters, it happened pretty quickly.”
The Phillies are careful not to get ahead of themselves, but they are oozing with confidence — especially with ace Zack Wheeler going in Game 5 and coming off a masterful outing in Game 1 when he allowed just one hit over seven scoreless innings.
“I’ve said this a couple times in the last couple of I days, and I’m sorry it’s getting redundant,” Hoskins said. “You can’t write it better for the guys in that room, for the staff, for everybody in this organization, but I think most importantly for the city. Yeah, you can’t write it better. I can’t imagine what tomorrow is going to be like.”