Phils bemoan mistakes in walk-off loss

June 27th, 2021

NEW YORK – Rhys Hoskins believes the Phillies are better than this.

He believes they will come back. He believes they will win.

He offered a spirited defense of his team following Saturday’s 4-3 walk-off loss to the Mets at Citi Field. It was the Phillies’ fourth one-run loss this week. Hoskins’ error to start the ninth sparked the Mets’ two-run rally against Héctor Neris, who lost his closer’s job on Wednesday, but pitched because José Alvarado and Archie Bradley were unavailable.

“I’ll start of us off here,” Hoskins said. “I’ve got to catch the ball. I’ve got to make the play. I really believe if we get that out to start the ninth that we win that game, that we’ve got a chance to win the biggest series of the year tomorrow with maybe our best guy this year on the mound. I’m sure you’re going to write about that. I’m sure you’re going to write about the defense. Yeah, the last couple nights we haven’t made a couple plays that we should have for sure. And I would definitely tell you that. I think Bohmer [Alec Bohm] would tell you that last night. So, if you’re going to write about that, obviously write about it, but don’t forget to write about the great things today.”

The words about a big win against Mets ace Jacob deGrom were written, then erased. The Phillies scored twice in six innings against deGrom, who has been nearly unhittable this season.  Andrew McCutchen ripped a slider off the right side of deGrom’s rump for a single to center field with one out in the second. He stole second and scored on Nick Maton’s two-out single to right to make it 1-0, snapping deGrom’s scoreless streak at 31 innings.

McCutchen’s sacrifice fly scored Odúbel Herrera in the sixth to make it 2-1.

Zach Eflin outpitched deGrom. He allowed one run in six innings.

He had thrown only 82 pitches when he warmed up to pitch the seventh. But then Phillies manager Joe Girardi popped out of the dugout. He wanted left-hander Ranger Suárez to face pinch-hitter Jeff McNeil. Eflin was surprised, looking around the field as Girardi approached. Hoskins patted his teammate on the back as Girardi took the ball from his hand.

Suárez got McNeil out, but he served up a game-tying solo home run to Kevin Pillar.

“I just think, he’s nearing the end of the rope,” Girardi said. “He got out of a jam in the sixth, and I thought it was time to go get him.”

If Eflin was frustrated to be pulled from a game in which he seemed to be cruising, he did not express it.

“I was caught a little off guard,” he said. “I think anybody would be caught off guard going out and warming up for an inning and then seeing the manager walk out and take you out. But I understand the situation. It was late in the game and they’re pinch-hitting a lefty. I still had more in the tank, but that’s not my decision and I completely respect him for doing that.”

McCutchen got hit by a pitch to start the ninth. He stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Maton’s sacrifice fly to left.

The Phillies had the lead again.

Then, poof.

“I really think that this is a really good team,” Hoskins said. “The ball is not really bouncing our way. We’re not getting calls. Things like that seem to be happening. Sure, we’re 75-80 games in, but there’s a lot of baseball to be played. The schedule softens as we go and this team has the ability to go on a run and I really think that we have a really long run in us.”

“You get knocked on your ass a lot during the season,” Eflin said. “It’s really how you pick yourself up, how you pick the people around you up. We’re doing everything right. We’re preparing, we’re ready to win games. Now we just need to execute. That’s going to come. I wholeheartedly believe that.”

The Phillies entered the series 34-37 and five games behind the Mets in the National League East. If they held on to each of their late-inning leads this weekend, they would be .500 and two games back. Instead, they are 35-39 and six games back.

“Yeah, obviously, these types of losses hurt,” Hoskins said. “They’ve been happening what seems like a lot over the last couple years. But this is what we do, man. We compete. We get knocked down and we get back up. Everybody else I’m sure feels the same way. It sucks right now, right? This is a tough, tough loss after a tough, tough loss yesterday. But I guarantee we’re going to be ready to show up tomorrow and try to split a series against a pretty good team. We’ll swallow it. We’ll learn from it. We’ll try to be better tomorrow. We’ll be ready.”