Pete Mackanin opened his postgame news conference thusly on Tuesday night:
"Tough day for the Phillies," he said.
Tough night, too.
Heck, it's been a tough season.
A tough few seasons.
Baseball's worst team took it on the mandible twice Tuesday, losing both ends of a twi-night doubleheader to the Miami Marlins by scores of 12-8 and 7-4.
The Phils hit eight home runs in the twinbill — Tommy Joseph and Andres Blanco each went deep in both games and rookie Rhys Hoskins hit his sixth in 12 games — but the starting pitching did not keep them in either game.
"It's a shame," Mackanin said. "We hit all those home runs.
"We had some opportunities. Didn't capitalize. And the pitching was a problem."
Aaron Nola, pretty much the best starting pitcher in baseball for a 10-game stretch from June 22 to Aug. 12, struggled for the second straight outing in the first game. The right-hander gave up nine hits and seven runs over 6 1/3 innings. Six of the hits were for extra bases, including two home runs in the Marlins' decisive six-run seventh inning (see Instant Replay).
That inning started with the game tied, 3-3. Nola gave up a walk and a single to open the frame. He then surrendered a long, three-run, pinch-hit homer to Ichiro Suzuki as the Marlins broke the tie. Giancarlo Stanton hit his majors-high 46th homer two batters later, also off Nola. Marcell Ozuna added a two-run homer in the inning against Jesen Therrien.
Suzuki has two pinch-hit homers in his career, both against the Phillies. He crushed a fat, 3-1 sinker from Nola. The ball traveled 432 feet to center.
"I made some mistakes with guys on base and that hurt," Nola said. "Leadoff walks, getting behind in counts, getting balls up. That hurt me."
While the first game got away from the Phillies late, the nightcap got away from them early. Rookie Nick Pivetta needed 46 pitches to complete the first inning and was tagged for six runs in the first two innings. Five of those runs came on a pair of homers from Ozuna and Christian Yelich (see Instant Replay).
Pivetta's ERA swelled to 6.73 ERA. That's the second-highest ERA by a Phillie in his first 19 career starts. Only Hal Elliott, with a 7.45 ERA in his first 19 starts in 1929-30, had a higher mark.
"Pivetta didn’t have it," Mackanin said. "There's not a lot you can say about it.
"The Marlins have two hitters (Stanton and Ozuna) right near 100 RBIs and the rest of their lineup is good. Yelich is a good hitter and Dee Gordon, too. They're tough. If you don't make good pitches, you're going to get burned.
"You get back to Pivetta — young pitchers take their lumps and he took some lumps today. They don’t develop overnight."
Pivetta, 24, had spent the previous five days with Triple A Lehigh Valley. He was added to the roster because teams are allowed to carry 26 players for a doubleheader. He will head back to Lehigh Valley for at least another five days to complete a 10-day assignment.
"I just wasn't locating my pitches today," Pivetta said. "I got behind. They took advantage of it. That’s what happened today. It's difficult. I failed the team today, failed myself. I'll go back to Triple A, work hard and get back up here eventually.
"I'll have to learn from it. There's always stuff to learn with failure. The team stayed in it really well tonight. The bullpen picked me up."
In particular, Edubray Ramos pitched three scoreless innings in the second game and Yacksel Rios, the 13th rookie to debut with the Phillies this season, showed a nice, loose power arm in pitching an inning and two-thirds of scoreless relief.
Rookie Nick Williams had the most eye-popping of the Phillies' eight home runs, a 445-foot blast to dead center in the nightcap. He would have had a second homer if Yelich didn’t commit armed robbery at the center-field wall.
The combined duration of the two games was six hours, 28 minutes and the Phillies saw their majors-worst record sink to 45-79. Attendance was generously announced at 20,761. There were Eagles chants late in the second game and even a "Trust the Process" chant. The second game ended in surreal fashion, with rain building to a downpour, lightning dotting the sky and the Marlins running off the field after out-hitting the Phillies, 27-16, and taking two wins. They have won nine of their last 11 to even their record at 62-62.