The Phillies were gifted a historic performance from Rhys Hoskins and they still weren’t able to win on Tuesday night. Hoskins had four hits including two homers and drove in six runs, but the Miami Marlins rallied for three runs in the ninth inning to beat the Phillies 11-9 at Citizens Bank Park.
After starter Zach Eflin dug the Phillies a four-run hole in the first inning on two-run homers by Jesús Aguilar and Avisaíl Garcia, Hoskins hit a three-run homer to tie the game in the fourth. In the fifth inning, Hoskins’ two-out, two-run double gave the Phillies an 8-4 lead. It was his 500th career hit.
Then after the bullpen squandered that lead, allowing four runs in the seventh to tie the game 8-8, Hoskins showed up yet again, hitting a solo home run to left in the eighth inning. His 11 hits over his last five games are the most hits in his career over that span, but they still weren’t enough to make up for the Phillies’ bullpen and defensive woes.
Closer Corey Knebel was entrusted with the 9-8 lead in the ninth. It was first appearance since Friday, having been shut down as a precaution on Saturday after feeling tightness in his right shoulder. The outing was a disaster. He left with the game tied, the bases loaded, and did not record an out. He threw 16 pitches and only four of them were strikes. He gave up one hit, two walks and three runs that were unearned because of errors by third baseman Alec Bohm and catcher J.T. Realmuto.
When asked whether the team would use Knebel in the next save situation, interim manager Rob Thomson said the team will “discuss it.”
“I don’t know whether Corey was rusty from three days off or there’s still something going on,” Thomson said. “I haven’t talked to Corey. But he wasn’t very sharp tonight.”
Knebel said after the outing that he felt fine physically and mechanically, but just couldn’t throw strikes.
The errors compounded the damage. The first batter Knebel faced reached base on a throwing error by Bohm (although Hoskins acknowledged that he should have made the pick in the dirt at first base).
Andrew Bellatti replaced Knebel and seemed to be on a roll, until Realmuto dropped a foul pop by Aguílar.
“I got to make that play,” Realmuto said. “The net really wasn’t in my way. I just got there a little late and it just kind of clicked off the heel of my glove. I don’t know if I lost concentration for a split second or what, but Bellatti did a great job coming in, getting that shallow fly ball to [left fielder Kyle] Schwarber and getting that pop-up. If I catch that ball, there’s a high probability he gets out of that inning. I’ve just got to be better in that situation. There’s no reason I shouldn’t have caught it.”
Aguílar ended up doubling to drive in two of the runners Knebel had put on.
The Phillies’ bats were unable to respond in the bottom of the ninth. Didi Gregorius struck out swinging. Bohm hit a double, but Bryson Stott and Matt Vierling flied out to end it. The Phillies are now 31-31.
Bullpen blows a four-run lead
After Hoskins gifted the Phillies five runs, the Phillies bullpen squandered their 8-4 lead. Eflin had a rough start to his outing but then bounced back nicely. He was at 80 pitches when he exited after six innings.
The bullpen only needed to record nine outs from that point on, but found trouble immediately. Jeurys Familia came into the game in relief of Eflin, and put his first two batters on base, allowing a double and a walk. One out later, he allowed a three-run home run to Jacob Stallings to trim the Phillies’ lead from four runs to one.
Familia exited the game at that point.
“He’s been struggling a little bit lately, that’s for sure,” Thomson said. “But he has a track record. And we’re trying to figure out where we’re at and get him going a little bit. He’s a power arm. Heavy sink. Gets a lot of ground balls when he’s throwing well. We’re trying to get him back on track.”
Seranthony Domínguez came into the game in relief of Familia, and allowed a solo home run to Jazz Chisholm to tie the game at 8-8. It was the first home run Domínguez has allowed all season.
Eflin with a rough start, and then a bounce back
The Marlins have historically been a thorn in Eflin’s side. Entering Tuesday night, over 14 career starts, he was 5-7 with a 4.96 ERA. His first inning on Tuesday reflected those stats. He allowed four hits and four earned runs. But from that point on, he cruised.
Eflin only allowed one hit over his next five innings. He struck out four hitters over six innings and allowed no walks (which was big for him, since he struggled with his command in his last outing). He exited the game at 80 pitches, which seemed surprising given how he was cruising, but Eflin said afterwards that he felt some soreness and tightness in his right knee (the knee he had surgery on last September).
“It got a little tight tonight,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m still 8½ months post pretty major knee surgery. There’s going to be peaks and valleys throughout this process and tonight it was just a little sore, a little tight, kind of limiting pushing off the mound a little bit. But I’m not too worried about it. I got treatment after the game and it’s already loosening up. So it’s one of those things you go through throughout the rehab process. Same thing I went through in 2016, had some peaks and valleys back then, too.”
Eflin says he still feels confident that he’ll be able to make his next start, but the Phillies will re-evaluate him Wednesday.