He owned a triple play to his name and 11 homers in 64 at-bats and countless records both trivial and absurd, but Rhys Hoskins had not yet savored a curtain call at Citizens Bank Park. He grew to love baseball as a Giants fan in California and a witness to many salutes after prodigious Barry Bonds home runs. He knew how those felt.
Now, on a Sunday afternoon in South Philadelphia, they yelled for Hoskins. The chants grew from behind the dugout and spread to the entire ballpark in the eighth inning of the Phillies' 6-3 win over Chicago. His teammates goaded him. Daniel Nava, the next hitter, stepped out of the batter's box.
Hoskins emerged. He pumped his left fist to the sky.
"To be the one they're saying your name," Hoskins said, "I just get the goosebumps thinking about it."
There are no more words to describe Hoskins' ascent from the International League to one of the hottest hitters in Major League Baseball. He was the fastest to reach 11 homers in the history of baseball. He homered for the fifth straight game to tie a Phillies record. He has homered on the last eight days the Phillies have played a baseball game.
Before that, he started a game-changing triple play Sunday with a shoestring catch in left field. It was the first triple play initiated by a Phillies outfielder in 53 years. The team with the worst record in baseball captured a series from the defending world champions.
"It's unbelievable," catcher Cameron Rupp said. "You've got to see it to believe it, and we're getting to see it every day. It's pretty freaking awesome."
"I kept saying today that it's not real," said Nick Williams, whose two-run homer pushed the Phillies ahead. "It's amazing. It's fun to watch. It's fun to be a part of and watch it live."
They noticed it in the other dugout, too.
"I don't think I've ever seen a young guy look that profound at home plate," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Look at his walks to strikeouts. That's the part that tells me he can sustain — not necessarily this pace — but he can sustain it because he doesn't strike out. He will accept his walks. He doesn't expand the strike zone. He uses the whole field. He's a big guy with short movements to the ball. Pretty impressive."
The play that happened in a Phillies game for just the third time in 91 years and altered the course of Sunday afternoon was so nonchalant. Hoskins, after he snared a sinking liner hit by Javier Baez, dragged his glove across the grass. There was no hurry.
Hoskins dropped the ball as he attempted to transfer it. He casually retrieved it. He lobbed it toward second base. Cesar Hernandez stepped on the bag. He double-clutched before he fired to first base, where Tommy Joseph stood. There it was, a rare triple play started by an outfielder. The Phillies last turned one in 1964.
"Any time something like that happens," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said, "it kind of gets everybody's energy up."
At first, everyone was a bit confused. The Cubs called for a video review. After 2 minutes and 29 seconds, crew chief Jerry Layne signaled three outs.
"They grabbed the momentum right there," Maddon said.
The Phillies scored five times in the bottom of the fifth, right after the triple play. Williams cracked his eighth homer after a two-run Freddy Galvis single.
They won, of course, with the help of another Hoskins home run — his 11th in his last 14 games. Hoskins worked a full count against Chicago's veteran righthander, Koji Uehara. He threw Hoskins an 88-mph fastball, belt-high and on the outer edge. Hoskins clobbered it for a solo shot.
His 11 homers in August are a club record for home runs in a month by a rookie. That is incredible because he did not debut until Aug. 10 and went homerless until Aug. 14. There are four more days this month for him to challenge the club's record of 15 homers in a month, period, done by Jim Thome and Cy Williams.
Does Hoskins realize how ridiculous this is?
"Not really," he said. "To be honest, I'm just coming to the ballpark every day with the same mind-set. Good stuff just keeps happening."