PHILADELPHIA — Matt Vierling started Monday night at a new position — third base.
He ended it at what is becoming a familiar one: home plate, after scoring the winning run for the second time in a week.
Rhys Hoskins ripped a slider to left-center field, and Vierling scored from second to complete a come-from-behind 3-2 victory for the Phillies over the Marlins.
The Phillies bounced back from their first loss of the Rob Thomson era. They’ve won 10 of their last 11 games. More importantly, they scored a huge win against a divisional opponent.
“I talked to the guys before the game and said that we need to start winning games in our division,” Thomson said. “That’s what good teams do.”
Good teams also win the kind of game the Phillies just did.
Vierling started the ninth-inning rally with a one-out bloop single to left. After Kyle Schwarber struck out looking, he stole second on an 0-1 pitch to Hoskins.
“We saw how he was working and the opportunity presented itself,” Vierling said. “I had a good feeling I could go get it.”
“I’d much rather hit with him on second base,” Hoskins added. “He’s a quick dude. He knows how to steal a bag. I knew he had the green light, I was just kind of waiting to let him go.”
For Hoskins, the winner was the first walk-off RBI of his career. The first baseman was still dripping wet after the game, the result of his teammates mobbing him with “some Gatorade, a little bit of water” for “the best kind of shower.”
It was the Phillies’ third walk-off win of the year, but their first against a divisional opponent. It also came against a pitcher who’s making a case for the NL Cy Young Award. When Bryce Harper hit an RBI double with one out in the third, it snapped a streak of 20 scoreless innings by Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara.
When they scored the second run against Alcantara, the Phillies snapped his streak of six consecutive starts with at least seven innings and one or no runs allowed, the longest such stretch in the Majors since 2015.
Hoskins excitedly yelled toward the Phillies’ bench after drawing a full-count walk to lead off the eighth. Alcantara’s pitch count had eclipsed 100 with the reigning NL MVP on deck.
“I know who’s hitting behind me,” Hoskins said. “Everyone in that ballpark knows who’s hitting behind me.”
Harper drew a walk. Marlins manager Don Mattingly kept Alcantara in the game to face J.T. Realmuto. The catcher, who was behind the plate when Alcantara made his first Major League start in 2018, grounded into a double play. Alcantara was finally removed at 113 pitches.
Hoskins was asked if a team exhales when a pitcher like Alcantara comes out of the game.
“Naturally,“ the first baseman said. “But by no means does it mean there’s not still nasty stuff in the back of their bullpen.”
Didi Gregorius then ripped the first pitch he saw from reliever Steven Okert for an RBI single to tie the game. It was a lefty-on-lefty matchup, but Thomson did not consider pinch-hitting for Gregorius, despite having righties Nick Castellanos and Alec Bohm on the bench.
Thomson also did not pinch-hit for Vierling in the ninth.
It’s been a whirlwind week for Vierling — his appearance at third base was the second new position for the rookie, who usually plays outfield, in three days. On Saturday, he made his first career start at second. On Tuesday, he tried on the hero cap for the first time, hitting the go-ahead home run off Josh Hader in the ninth inning to complete what was also a 3-2 Phillies comeback win.
“It’s been awesome,” Vierling said. “Being able to do this right now is really big for me. But I’m just happy with the way this team is playing.”