Brewers DH Rhys Hoskins homers in return to Philadelphia

ByABC News
June 4, 2024, 2:09 AM

PHILADELPHIA -- Rhys Hoskins homered for the Milwaukee Brewers in his return to Citizens Bank Park, but David Dahl went deep in his Philadelphia debut to back Zack Wheeler and the Phillies in a 3-1 victory Monday night.

In the opener of a three-game series between National League division leaders, Edmundo Sosa and Johan Rojas hit consecutive RBI singles in the second inning at the bottom of Philadelphia's batting order.

Wheeler (7-3) pitched seven strong innings, allowing five hits and three walks. He struck out six.

The only run Wheeler gave up was a homer in the seventh by Hoskins, who spent the first seven years of his career with the Phillies. He was sidelined throughout his final season with the team last year while recovering from a knee injury.

"I think I was able to reel it in a little bit, got right into the at-bat," Hoskins said of his first at-bat. "I guess there's something about competing against the people you know that makes you lock in a little bit. But also, the guy on the mound [Wheeler] was pretty good tonight, so you better do that, or you're probably not going to have too much of a chance."

In an emotional return, the popular Hoskins was greeted with a standing ovation from the sellout crowd as well as his former Phillies teammates and coaches. He replied by tipping his cap in acknowledgment. The Phillies players on the field all took off their caps and saluted Hoskins. Bryce Harper, whose move to first base this season precipitated the Phillies' decision not to re-sign Hoskins, applauded.

The Brewers designated hitter acknowledged the fans and did his best to keep his emotions in check, nodding his head and biting his lip as the applause swelled. That first at-bat ended with Hoskins popping out to shortstop, but it was every bit the emotional moment Hoskins had expected.

"I'm kind of a crier," Hoskins said before the game. "I think it just tells you all you need to know about the energy and emotion that I've been able to grab from this place."

Hoskins, 31, who signed with the Brewers as a free agent in the offseason, was also the talk of the opposing clubhouse, pregame.

"Rhys was here for such a long time and he brought a lot to this city and this team and organization," Phillies outfielder Brandon Marsh said. "I would have hoped that the Bank would welcome him with open arms and [give him] an ovation."

Considered a clubhouse leader, Hoskins was one of the foundational players of the Phillies' renaissance. The club was an also-ran when he arrived in August 2017 but became a championship contender in each of the previous two seasons.

A fifth-round pick by the Phillies in the 2014 amateur draft, Hoskins hit 18 home runs in his first 170 major league at-bats and finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting despite playing fewer than two months of the season. Hoskins missed the 2023 season after tearing the ACL in his right knee in spring training. He was trying to get back in time to rejoin his team for the World Series, but the Phillies were beaten in the NLCS by the Arizona Diamondbacks in seven games.

"It was awesome," Milwaukee manager Pat Murphy said of Hoskins' return. "The fans showed what this game is all about. Rhys left an impression on this fan base, like he will on ours."

His seminal moment with Philadelphia came in Game 3 of the 2022 NLDS when he hit a home run off Atlanta Braves starter Spencer Strider. Hoskins slammed his bat to the ground in what has become known as the "bat spike" in Phillies lore.

"The best part about it is that it came in the first playoff game in this stadium in over a decade," Hoskins said. "I think that's where that kind of eruption of emotion came from because it was just built up for so long and I drew that right from the fans."

Hoskins made an impression during his time with the Phillies for his contributions off the field. He and his wife, Jayme, were involved with the Philadelphia community and made the city their home in the offseason.

"He's a man's man," Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson said. "He's honest. He has a lot of integrity. He cares about other people. He's a really talented player, obviously. He plays the game the right way and plays it hard. He's just a pro's pro."

Hoskins hit nine homers in 40 games for Milwaukee but missed a couple weeks with a hamstring strain. Hoskins was reactivated Friday, allowing him to be in the lineup for his Philadelphia homecoming.

"I was so glad to be his teammate," said Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez, who played with Hoskins for six years. "He is a great person and was a great leader. I'm glad to see he [got] the ovation from the fans. I'm happy to see him get that."

Murphy knew what it all meant to his new star.

"It meant a lot to him. He's a deep kid, and he loves this game," Murphy said. "And he knows the game has treated him great, and Philly has treated him great."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.