Phillies vs. Blue Jays: Rhys Hoskins doubles Phils to a win

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Phillies' bats come through late again in comeback win over Blue Jays originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

No, they still haven't had a string of explosive nights, but the Phillies' bats have been clutch late in games during this nine-game, three-city road trip and came back to win another one Friday night.

Down a run in the top of the seventh inning of their series opener against the Blue Jays, the Phils broke the game open with five runs, all with two outs. The biggest knock in the 5-1 win was Rhys Hoskins’ bases-clearing double off of reliever Tim Mayza.

The Phillies have scored 20 runs in the seventh inning or later in the seven games of this road trip, including 12 in the last four.

They're 4-3 on the trip and have won all three series openers in Atlanta, Washington and Dunedin, Fla., the Blue Jays' temporary home.

Friday’s game was slow and plodding despite neither team scoring until Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took Vince Velasquez deep to right field for a solo shot in the home sixth. 

Velasquez made his third straight strong start, allowing just that run across 5⅔ innings. His last start went nearly the same way, with the lone run he allowed coming on a Freddie Freeman homer to begin the sixth.

"Great, he was great," manager Joe Girardi said. "The only trouble he had was a few walks. That’s as good as Vinny’s thrown the ball all year. His velocity had an uptick to it today. His slider was back. It’s a pitch he didn’t have his first few starts. Vinny was great."

It’s the first time in his career that Velasquez has gone three straight starts with at least five innings and one run allowed or fewer.

"All I wanted was just another opportunity and to take off and run with it," Velasquez said. "... Once I’m locked in, I’m locked in. I was so locked in today that I still had my earrings in, I was like what’s going on here."

Velasquez forgot to take his diamonds out and they flashed a few times during the night but that wasn't why the Blue Jays were off balance.

In the decisive seventh, the Phillies had a runner on first with two outs when the Blue Jays' bullpen lost command of the zone. Trent Thornton walked Jean Segura and was pulled for Mayza, who walked Bryce Harper to load the bases. J.T. Realmuto had stranded the sacks full in the third inning but this time, he worked a game-tying walk after falling behind 0-2.

Hoskins doubled to the gap in left-center to plate three, then Alec Bohm hit a two-bagger off the wall in right field to score Hoskins.

Harper reached base all five times with a single, a double and three walks. He's hitting .318/.449/.582 in 136 plate appearances.

Jose Alvarado worked himself into a jam in the eighth inning by walking Bo Bichette and Guerrero with one out. He got out of it on a line-drive double play to Segura, who just barely beat Bichette back to the bag.

Alvarado has put 23 men on base in 12⅔ innings but has a 2.84 ERA. It remains to be seen if this can sustain itself over six months, but Alvarado's allowed a run in only two of his 15 appearances.

The Phillies struggled to get anything going offensively until the seventh. They struck out nine times against a familiar foe in Steven Matz, four of them looking, including three in the fourth inning. 

This was the 15th time in 39 games the Phillies have struck out at least a dozen times. They’ve done so three more times than any team in the National League.

But they still won. They continue to keep games close, and this week they’ve scored late to tack on or come back and win. They’re 21-18, a half-game behind the NL East-leading Mets, with Aaron Nola on the mound Saturday night.

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