Scott Kingery found J.P. Crawford in the dugout in the midst of Thursday night's five-run second-inning and had a question to ask.
How in Gabe Kapler's name did you just score?
Kingery watched Cesar Hernandez' routine single skip into center field, put his head down, and ran home from second base. Kingery was expected to score. But he needed an explanation for how Crawford scored from first. Nick Williams, who scored from third, and Kingery, broke when Pirates righthander Jameson Taillon fired a full-count fastball with two outs. And Crawford sprinted from first base even sooner, leaving as soon as Taillon lifted his leg.
Crawford's big jump put him halfway to second base by the time Hernandez made contact and he was halfway to third when Starling Marte picked up the ball in center. Dusty Wathan, the third base-coach, spotted Crawford rounding second and emphatically waved him home. Sending Crawford, manager Gabe Kapler said, took "big stones."
"Big stones to the max," Crawford said after the team's 7-0 win.
It was another example of the team's aggressive approach to baserunning which they have instilled since spring training. Be bold on the basepaths, Kapler often said. The Phillies – under the guide of first-base coach Jose David Flores – stole two more bases Thursday night and have the third most in baseball after finishing last season with the fifth-lowest mark. Crawford's jump and Wathan's decision to send him home were stepped in that aggression.
"He's aggressive," Crawford said. "I got a good jump and I was turning those corners quickly so I wasn't surprised. It works out in our favor more than half the time. I love it. It shows a lot about our team and our hustle. That's the way he like to play, hard. So we're going to continue to do it."
Crawford slid home to easily beat the relay throw with from Adam Frazier, who turned from second base and looked surprised that Crawford was still running. He, too, needed an explanation. It was the Phillies first three-run single since 1978 when Jose Cardenal stroked one against the Dodgers. The game seemed to shift on Crawford's slide.
"I don't want to say it's a dagger in the second inning but their guy had a long inning and we had great at-bats the whole inning," said Rhys Hoskins, who batted twice in the inning. "That was kind of just the first big blow of the game and kind of set the tone for the rest of the game."
Kingery finally received his explanation. Crawford told him he was running as hard as he could and joked that he was almost at second base by the time Kingery left for third.