There were times Tuesday night when the Phillies produced in the clutch.
And there were times when they tripped all over themselves and looked like the Keystone Kops.
In the end, the Phillies could not play over their sloppiness. They played poorly in the field in the late innings and, of course, their punching-bag bullpen (10.19 ERA) coughed it up once again. The result was the craziest and most demoralizing loss of the Joe Girardi era, a 10-9 defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles in 10 innings at Citizens Bank Park.
“We kept coming back but weren’t able to close out the deal,” Girardi said afterward. “We had our chances. We made some mistakes that really cost us. I thought our guys did a great job offensively battling back. Unfortunately, we were one hit short. It’s just frustrating. That’s a game that I thought in a lot of ways, we gave it away.”
Let’s count the ways that the Phillies gave it away.
Starting pitcher Zack Wheeler could not protect a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning.
Reliever Tommy Hunter came into a tie game in the seventh and allowed three hits and two runs to the first three batters.
The Phillies took the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning on a pair of homers by Bryce Harper (two-run shot) and Segura (solo shot).
That was clutch.
Hector Neris was called on to close out the one-run lead in the top of the ninth, but he couldn’t do it. He allowed the tying run then was charged with two more when third baseman Segura tripped over the pitcher’s mound while tracking a pop up that would have been the third out.
No problem. Didi Gregorius tied the game at 8-8 with a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth. The Phillies still had life despite Neris' blown save.
Under MLB’s new COVID protocols, both teams started the 10thinning with a runner on second base.
The Orioles scored quickly when Austin Hays — and we’re not making this up — stroked a leadoff, two-run, inside-the-park homer. Phillies centerfielder Roman Quinn tried to make a charging, diving catch on the ball. He missed it and it rolled to the warning track as Hays circled the bases.
The Phils got one back in the bottom of the 10th, but left two men in scoring position.
The plays involving Segura and Quinn led to four runs.
Segura called off first baseman Rhys Hoskins on Pedro Severino’s pop up in the middle of the infield. It should have been Hoskins’ ball.
“I think that’s probably the inexperience of Jean at third,” Girardi said. “He’s used to being at shortstop and taking charge. It hurt us tonight.
“Hector was a little off. I know he’s frustrated about it. But through all that, we still had a chance. We blew a pop up.”
Hoskins called for the ball. In retrospect, he said he believed he should have yelled louder.
“I heard something from my right and typically those guys take priority over the first baseman,” Hoskins said. “I just need to be louder. I probably called it a little too early.”
In the 10th, Quinn should have conceded the hit to Hays and played the ball on one hop.
“The effort is great,” Girardi said. “But it turns into two runs where you have a chance to only give up one. That’s kind of frustrating.”
Deolis Guerra gave up the inside-the-parker.
Harper witnessed the ball get by Quinn from right field.
“You love the hustle,” Harper said. “You love the effort. You never want to take that away from Q because he plays a great centerfield. But we have to be a little bit smarter. I had to learn that as well when I was playing right field coming up. I’d wanted to get every ball for my pitchers. But that’s a spot, with a guy on second, where you have to keep the ball in front of you and hopefully keep that double play in order so they hopefully score just one run.
“Coulda, woulda, shoulda and we might have been tied going into the 11th. Like I said, I love the effort from Q. But that’s definitely a ball we’ve got to keep in front and I think he knows that.”
Twelve games — or 20 percent — into the 60-game sprint, the Phillies are 5-7.
They have two more with the Orioles in this series. The O’s are 8-7 after losing 108 games last season.
“We’ve got to win games,” Harper said. “This is win or go home, pretty much. With a 60-game schedule, we can’t make mistakes. We’ve got to count on the guys we know we can count on. It’s tough to go into the inning with a lead and lose a ballgame.”