Everywhere you turned Thursday, there was bad news at Citizens Bank Park.
At 3:30 in the afternoon, the Phillies announced Rhys Hoskins was going back on the injured list.
At 4:30, manager Joe Girardi announced Zach Eflin, that night’s scheduled starting pitcher, had been scratched because of a flareup of tendinitis in his right knee.
Thirty minutes later, Hoskins walked into the dugout and announced to a group of reporters that his season was over and he would soon have surgery to repair an abdominal tear.
The last bit of bad news played out on the scoreboard from 7 o’clock on as the rapidly fading Phillies suffered an 8-7 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in front of a crowd of 20,148 that had a lot of opportunities to boo and did not whiff on them.
Though the final difference was just a run, the game was not nearly that close.
All seven of the Phillies’ runs were unearned as Arizona made three errors in the game. The Phils were out-hit, 15-7. They scored five unearned runs in the ninth inning.
It was the fourth time in four meetings, all in the last 10 days, that the Diamondbacks, owners of the National League’s worst record at 44-85, have beaten the Phillies.
File that under E for embarrassing.
There are 35 games remaining and the Phils are 5 ½ games back in the NL East race. They have lost 11 of their last 15 games to fall to a game under .500 at 63-64.
That’s really not the mark of a contender.
“It’s just really frustrating,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We’ve found different ways to lose games. As you see, there’s no quit in this team and we’re going to fight, fight, fight.
“Obviously, we need to start winning some games. I don’t think that’s a secret. We’ve dug ourselves a hole. But we had a chance to win tonight after being down, 8-2, in the ninth. They made a couple of errors to open the door but we kept fighting and, if we do that, you never know what will happen.”
Jean Segura’s two-run home run against right-hander Zac Gallen accounted for the Phillies’ early offense. Segura had been 4 for his previous 43 before the home run.
Down six runs in the ninth, the Phils rallied for five unearned runs to make it a one-run game. Bryce Harper doubled home two runs and Didi Gregorius singled home two more in the inning before Brad Miller, who figures to be the main replacement for Hoskins, struck out with a man on first to end the game.
Miller struck out three times on the night. He is hitting .213 on the season and is 8 for 57 (.140) with 20 strikeouts this month.
“Quite frankly, I’ve under-performed,” Miller said. “And Rhys being out is a huge loss for us if I keep playing like this. If I step up and perform well, I think we can soften the blow a little bit. But I’ve been terrible so I need to figure it out and help us down the stretch.”
Lack of offense has killed the Phillies as they have plummeted out of first place over the last 15 games. Through eight innings Thursday night, they’d averaged just 2.8 runs over a 15-game span.
It’s not going to get any easier with Hoskins, the team leader in homers (27) and RBIs (71), out the rest of the way.
“Next man up,” Girardi said. “It’s an opportunity to do something great. So we need some people to do something great.”
Eflin was activated from the IL earlier in the day. He had not pitched in the majors since July 16 – and he still hasn’t. A few hours before game time, his knee flared and Matt Moore was named to fill the start.
The left-hander gave up seven hits, two walks and four runs over four innings. Nick Ahmed’s two-run homer in the fourth hurt. Arizona parlayed an error and a walk by reliever JD Hammer into a couple of more runs in the sixth.
Gallen, from Gibbsboro, New Jersey and Bishop Eustace, pitched five innings and scattered three hits for the win. He is 2-7.
Gallen came out of the same 2016 draft in which the Phillies selected Mickey Moniak first overall. Gallen was a third-round pick of the Cardinals. He finished ninth in the NL Cy Young voting last season.
The Phillies’ postseason drought stands at nine seasons, the longest in the NL, and the loss of Hoskins doesn’t bode well for the team’s chances of breaking the dry spell this year. Before Tuesday’s game against Tampa Bay, Girardi said his team needed to have a winning homestand.
Three games in, the Phillies have not won a game and they need to win the remaining three simply to have a .500 homestand.