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September 14, 2016

Galvis homers again as Phillies bats come alive in win over Bucs

After his closer’s latest uneasy effort on Tuesday night, manager Pete Mackanin didn’t think Jeanmar Gomez’s recent struggles were too troubling, but the manager did say it thought it was odd that the reliever’s numbers at home were markedly worse than on the road.

Gomez, who blew a save Tuesday but held onto his job on Wednesday, entered the day with a 4.81 ERA and .788 opponents’ OPS in 33 games at Citizens Bank Park and a 2.53 ERA and a .609 opponents’ OPS in 32 games away from South Philly.

Philadelphia’s 13-year-old ballpark is known for being hitter friendly, though. Except for Phillies hitters in 2016, who, like Gomez, have struggled in their own ballpark.

The Phils entered Wednesday night having scored three runs or fewer in 43 of the 71 home dates on their schedule (which translates to 61 percent of their home games). They ranked last in runs (231, 3.25 RPG), hitting (.223), OBP (.284), slugging percentage (.364), total bases (839), and extra-base hits (173).

The Phillies have been so bad at home that the Atlanta Braves, who are vacating their home ballpark in the next two weeks, are the nest closest team in runs scored – and they’ve still scored 42 more runs at Turner Field than the Phils have at Citizens Bank Park in the same number of games.

But Wednesday was apparently Jake Thompson’s lucky night. The Phillies bats erupted for 15 hits – six different players finished with multiple hits – en route to a 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"You get 15 hits you’d like to think you’ll score more than six runs, but I’ll take it anyway that I can get it," Mackanin said. "It’s just nice to win."

Freddy Galvis, who made a defensive gem behind Thompson to record the last out of the second inning, fueled the Phils with a two-run home in the next half inning to give his team an early 2-0 lead. Galvis (2-for-4) has 10 home runs in his last 32 games, the result of a little extra work in the offseason and a productive chat with hitting coach Steve Henderson last month in Los Angeles.

When Galvis’s 19 home run of the season found a landing spot in the left field seats, it gave Thompson just as much run support after two innings than he had received in his previous five starts combined. The Phils had scored a total of two runs while Thompson was in the game in his last five starts, all losses.

Wednesday night marked just the 10th time this season the Phillies have scored at least six runs in a game at home. To put that int better perspective, the powerful 2009 Phils lineup scored six or more runs in 27 of their 81 home games.

Perhaps the most impressive aspects of the latest six-run explosion (the second time they had scored six runs in this series, to be fair) was that both where the production came from and when it came were each spread out.

Galvis’s home run got them started, but Aaron Altherr (3-for-4) and Tyler Goeddel (2-for-4, his first hit snapping an 0-for-21 skid) also collected hits in the second inning.

In the third, Maikel Franco (2-for-5 with a double) singled and scored on a Cameron Rupp double. In the fourth, Franco’s double (which could have been a triple had an outfielder bobbled it, a credit to Franco’s hustle on the base paths) scored Cesar Hernandez, who reached on a bunt base hit.

Galvis, Altherr, and Goeddel all collected hits in the fifth (but all were stranded, too). In the sixth, Tommy Joseph joined Galvis with his 19th home run of the season.

“It felt good," Galvis said. "I said it before, that the games here at home have been pretty tough. We haven't scored many runs. Today was a good today for us. We should learn from today and just keep going.”

After bemoaning that his team failed to add on runs a night earlier, Peter Mackanin saw his offense stay alive throughout the night, up and down his lineup. It hasn’t been a regular occurrence at Citizens Bank Park this year, but … better in September than never?

• Roman Quinn continued making a strong first impression with two more hits (including a double) and an outfield assist in the ninth inning, cutting down a run at the plate with a throw from center field that Mackanin pointed out on his own after the game.

"Of course I’ve got to talk about Roman Quinn’s arm," Mackanin said in his opening remarks of his postgame press conference. "I knew he had a good arm, but that’s a pretty darn good arm. ... He's check all the boxes. He’s an aggressive hitter. He can run. He can throw. He covers a lot of ground in the outfield and it’s a good first impression in the big leagues."

Jake Thompson has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last four starts, good enough for 2.49 ERA, after sporting a 9.78 ERA in his first four starts.  Thompson cut down his delivery in start No.5, simplifying his mechanics. It's apparently working.

"It’s super easy," Thompson said. "It’s only one movement, just a small step to the side. Which compared to what I was doing, it’s light years more repeatable."

• If you bet that both Tommy Joseph (in minor league camp this spring, off the roster last fall) and Freddy Galvis (20 total home runs in the last four seasons) would be on the brink of 20 home runs with more than two weeks left in the 2016 season back in April, book that flight for Las Vegas. Galvis continued his tear on Tuesday and was asked afterward about his sudden power prowess.

"I don't get surprised about anything," Galvis said. "But like I was saying before, I think 500 at-bats, 550 at-bats and you put 20 good swings and you hit the ball good especially in this park, then you can get homers. I mean, I feel good with that. I think I have to do better with my on-base percentage. I'd like to get my average up. But I think I am helping the team a little bit.”

Joseph, meanwhile, has more home runs than any Phillies rookie in the last 45 seasons (since 1972) except Ryan Howard (22 in 2005) and Scott Rolen (21 in 1997). Both Howard and Rolen won National League Rookie of the Year honors in those seasons. Former No.1 overall pick Pat Burrell hit 18 home runs in 2000.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21