Once again, the Phillies managed to keep their momentum at a minimum. Having won three straight and with a chance to pull within two games of the Chicago Cubs for the National League’s second wild-card spot, the Phillies instead lost for a third straight time with ace Aaron Nola on the mound.
This time, Nola deserved his fair share of the blame as he spotted the Cincinnati Reds a 5-0 lead by allowing five runs in the first two innings. Nola lasted just four innings in what was his briefest start since April 15 at home against the New York Mets. His ERA shot up from 3.45 to 3.63, but he did not get saddled with the loss because the Phillies climbed back to tie the game, thanks to a pair of two-run homers from Logan Morrison and J.T. Realmuto in the fifth inning and a solo shot by Jay Bruce in the seventh.
But after they got even in the top of the seventh, reliever Jose Alvarez gave up a go-ahead homer to Jose Iglesias in the bottom of the seventh.
“Really off,” is how Nola described his outing. “Curveball was probably one of the worst it has been this year. I really didn’t have a feel for getting on top of it. I really didn’t have much.”
Morrison and Bruce both hit pinch-hit homers, marking the first time since Aug. 13, 1958 that two Phillies hit pinch-hit home runs in the same game. The last duo to do so was Bob Bowman and Rip Repulski. For the record, the Phillies lost that night, too, falling to Pittsburgh 10-9 at Connie Mack Stadium.
Cincinnati’s Michael Lorenzen provided some even older home run history Wednesday night. After allowing the Phillies to tie it on Bruce’s home run, the Reds’ pitcher slugged a two-run homer in the eighth to help seal his own victory. Lorenzen became the first player to earn a win, hit a home run and play in the field in the same game since the Yankees’ Babe Ruth on June 13, 1921.
The Phillies slipped to three games behind the Cubs and must face Reds ace Sonny Gray Thursday afternoon.
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At the time it seemed like a huge play and even after its significance was erased by a two-run home run by Lorenzen, it was still worth marveling at the eighth-inning catch made by Phillies rookie center fielder Adam Haseley Wednesday night.
Former Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis led off the inning by slamming an 0-1 splitter from Blake Parker deep to right-center field. Haseley headed for the wall and perfectly measured the time of his jump before extending his right arm and gloving the baseball.
It became a mysterious play when Haseley took a full 11 steps before revealing that he had the baseball by flipping it into his bare hand. At that point, Galvis, who was halfway to second base in a home run trot, simply pointed to Haseley as if to say, “great catch.”
“We were all trying to figure it out,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “It took the dugout a while to recognize what just happened. Everybody was really happy for him. Everybody really likes Haseley. He’s so quiet. He just goes about his business and does things the right way. He’s looking like a major-league center fielder. At the time, it looked like it would keep us right where we needed to be.”
Instead, Parker gave up a two-run homer to Lorenzen later in the inning and the Phillies’ deficit in the wild card race grew by a half game.
Even though Aaron Nola pitched a dud, manager Gabe Kapler and the pitcher’s teammates were frustrated that they could not pick him up and get a win against the Reds after tying the score at 5-5 in the seventh inning, as Scott Lauber writes in his game story.
The double-A Reading Fightin Phils also lost Wednesday night as they opened their Eastern League playoff series at home against the New York Yankees’ Trenton affiliate. But the story of that game was Phillies’ top pitching prospect Spencer Howard, who worked seven dominating innings. Howard allowed just one run on two hits and struck out 12, making his case to get a call to the big leagues once Reading is eliminated, if not sooner.
After pitching just three innings before being lifted for a pinch-hitter Tuesday night, Vince Velasquez voiced his frustration. That led to a meeting Wednesday between the pitcher and manager Gabe Kapler. Velasquez said he had a “great talk” with the manager and Kapler made it clear that he is managing like he’s in the postseason, as he should right now.
Columnist Marcus Hayes cornered hitting instructor Charlie Manuel during the Phillies’ most recent homestand and got him to talk about how his old-school instruction methods have helped Scott Kingery and Rhys Hoskins since mid-August.
With Johnny Almaraz stepping down as scouting director Tuesday, I took a look at some of his picks during his five seasons in charge of the draft. His reputation will likely ride on the 2017 through 2019 drafts and it’s way too soon to judge them.
Today: Jason Vargas closes out series in Cincy against Reds ace Sonny Gray, 12:35 p.m.
Tomorrow: Zach Eflin pitches series opener against Mets at Citi Field, 7:10 p.m.
Saturday: Drew Smyly vs. Marcus Stroman, 7:10 p.m.
Sunday: Phils face Noah Syndergaard in final game of the season vs. Mets, 1:10 p.m.
Monday: Aaron Nola pitches series opener against Atlanta, 7:05 p.m.
On this date in 1976, Larry Christensen held the New York Mets to a run on eight hits over 8 1/3 innings, but it was hitting that stole the show at Shea Stadium as he belted a couple of home runs off Mickey Lolich in a 3-1 Phillies’ win. Christenson, who spent his entire 11-year career with the Phillies, is tied with Rick Wise for the franchise’s most career home runs by a pitcher. They each hit 11.
Question: Love Extra Innings! Hope it will continue into the Hot Stove season!
When assessing the job that Matt Klentak has done, I hope John Middleton doesn’t forget the Mickey Moniak pick. I get it that the jury is still out on Moniak. He is only 21 years old and may blossom into a big-league player in Philadelphia.
But you can’t blow a No. 1 overall pick in any draft. Moniak should be helping the Phillies now, as Soto and Acuna Jr. are helping the Nationals and Braves, respectfully, not still languishing in the minors. And both Soto and Acuna Jr. are younger than Moniak. Who ultimately gets the blame if Moniak turns out to be a bust — Klentak or Johnny Almaraz?
— Greg S., via email