TORONTO -- Rhys Hoskins (Big Fella) wore the frustration on his face following Friday night's 4-2 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
The Phillies had runners on first and second with two outs against Blue Jays closer Ken Giles (100 Miles Giles) when Hoskins stepped into the batter's box. He fouled off a 3-2 fastball before Giles threw a slider just off the plate. :: Players' Weekend presented by Valspar Stain ::
Hoskins started to walk toward first base, thinking he had worked a walk to load the bases, but home-plate umpire Pat Hoberg called the pitch a strike to end the game.
Hoskins could not believe it.
"He said he thought it was on the plate," Hoskins said. "It's why he called it a strike."
Fortunately for the Phillies, the Braves lost to Miami on Friday. It kept Philadelphia three games out of first place in the National League East. But the Phillies, who have lost 11 of their last 17 games, have three teams ahead of them in the NL Wild Card standings.
"Well, there's no need to panic," said Jacob Arrieta (Snake).
But there is reason to be frustrated. The Phillies opened the game with a pair of singles, but scored just once. They had runners on first and second with one out in the second, but Scott Kingery (Jetpax) got thrown out at the plate for the second out. They had runners on first and second with one out in the fifth, but did not score.
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Kingery homered in the seventh to make it a two-run game, setting up a showdown with Giles in the ninth.
Hoskins found himself in a similar situation on May 25, when he struck out looking in the ninth inning on a borderline 2-2 pitch in a loss to the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park. Hoskins said at the time that the pitch was too close to take. He called it unacceptable.
But that is not what bothered him on Friday.
"I'm frustrated, because I missed the pitch before that I shouldn't miss," he said.
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Arrieta missed a couple pitches in his six-plus innings. He allowed a solo homer to Kendrys Morales (Monina) in the second. Morales has now homered in five consecutive games. Then, Billy McKinney hit a two-run homer in the third.
But this loss hung more on the offense's inability to cash in, particularly against Blue Jays starter Ryan Borucki. He allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings after allowing 14 runs in 9 2/3 innings over his previous three starts.
A clutch hit or two, and the Phillies gain ground on Atlanta.
"We need the Braves to lose a few, and we need to play better. That's it," Arrieta said. "There's really nothing magical you can say. We need to play better. The Braves need to not play as well. If those two things happen, we'll be fine.
"We need to stay locked into the game. In the dugout, on the field, you know what I mean? We're still in it. We're still right there. We need guys pulling for each other. Play good baseball. Have a little luck on our side. We still have a ton of games to play. Plenty of time. We all know we have seven games left against those guys. So we'd like to even it up a little bit more before we get there."
Hector Neris entered the game with runners on first and second and no outs in the seventh inning and struck out the side. Since Neris rejoined the Phillies from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Aug. 15, he has struck out 12 of the 20 batters he has faced. He has allowed two hits and one walk in that stretch.
"Hector did an absolute tremendous job," manager Gabe Kapler said. "If we win that game, he's the star. That was special."
JETPAX LAUNCHES HOME RUN
Kingery hit a solo home run to right-center field in the seventh inning to cut Toronto's lead to 4-2. The ball left Kingery's bat at 104.2 mph and traveled a projected 396 feet, according to Statcast™. Kingery has struggled offensively much of the season, but he is hitting .417 (5-for-12) with one double, two home runs, two RBIs and a 1.417 OPS in his past seven games.
HE SAID IT
"I think once we've established he's feeling healthy and regular, be it his wrist or hamstring, you'll see him play fairly regularly. Tomorrow is in question. We'll probably give him a day off and get him back in the lineup Sunday. But those are things we'll discuss." -- Kapler, on Wilson Ramos (Buffalo), who missed three games this week against Washington because of a sore left wrist.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Phillies ran themselves out of a rally in the second inning, when Kingery tried to score from second on Roman Quinn's (Rome) one-out single to center field. Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar (KP) threw out Kingery at the plate for the second out.
The Phillies challenged the call, arguing that Russell Martin (Le Muscle) interfered with Kingery, but the ruling was confirmed. Then, Cesar Hernandez (Cesita) flied out to center to end the inning.
"We did a lot of homework on the throwing in the outfield, and there's no question Pillar is a Gold Glove outfielder with a very good arm," Kapler said. "But we also know that there have been some throws that have been off-line, so we were taking a bit of a risk there. I will say this: [third base coach Dusty Wathan] has been tremendous all season long -- from my position, the best decision maker at third base in the game. Obviously, it didn't work out in our favor and it hurt us, and I'm not disputing that by any stretch, but I will say Dusty has been excellent all season long."
Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta will face Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez (Sanchize) on Saturday afternoon (4:07 p.m. ET) in the second game of a three-game Players' Weekend series at Rogers Centre. Pivetta allowed six runs in 3 2/3 innings on Sunday against the Mets at the Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pa., after posting a 1.50 ERA in his three previous starts this month.