Rhys Hoskins’ struggles spilled over onto the field Tuesday night. The Phillies’ first baseman dropped a throw that would have completed a double play and ended the top of the ninth inning. The error allowed the Pittsburgh Pirates to score the go-ahead run and claim a 5-4 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Hoskins entered the game hitting .164 since the All-Star break.
The Phillies entered the game just a game back in the NL wild-card race. They are 68-63 with 31 games to play.
While Hoskins’ error was costly, it was not the Phillies’ only self-inflicted wound in the late innings.
Hector Neris walked two batters with one out in the top of the ninth to put the eventual go-ahead run on base.
And the Phillies’ offense could not capitalize on leadoff doubles in the seventh and eighth innings. J.T. Realmuto died on third in the seventh and Cesar Hernandez never advanced from second in the eighth. Those were two big wasted chances in a tie game.
The amazing Realmuto
The Phillies catcher threw out another would-be base-stealer. That’s four in two games and 34 this season, by far the most in the majors.
Corey Dickerson, who had just nine hits in 42 at-bats against left-handed pitching this season, had a double and a single in his first two at-bats, both against lefty Steven Brault. Dickerson’s single in the third drove in his 12th run in the last six games.
For the second straight start, lefty Drew Smyly did a pretty good job limiting damage and keeping his club in the game. Yeah, he gave up a triple, a homer and a single to open the game, but he kept the damage to two runs and picked up some easy innings after that before giving up a two-run homer in the sixth. Smyly left trailing, 4-3. The Phillies tied the game in the bottom of the sixth on a pinch-hit homer by Logan Morrison.
Coming around at the plate?
Hoskins may have made some progress with his swing. He has appeared pull-happy lately. But after striking out in the first inning (he took three fastballs and struck out on five pitches), he scorched a single up the middle. Later, he flied out to right field twice. Hoskins is at his best when he’s waiting on pitches and using the whole field, so his at-bats were promising.
A day after winning the game with a home run in the bottom of the 11th then taking a few verbal jabs at Phillies fans, Sean Rodriguez got the start at third base. He had a nice game, reaching base twice on a hit by pitch and a double. He also scored a run and made a nice play in the field.
Rodriguez was booed in pre-game introductions and before both at-bats (see story). A mixture of boos and cheers rained down on Rodriguez as he stood on second base after his double in the fourth inning. Rodriguez took it all in, shook his head and muttered something to himself.
Scott Kingery had some pre-game tests on his aching abdomen and did not start the game, but he was cleared to pinch-hit in the bottom of the eighth. He struck out to strand a runner at second base.
The series concludes on Wednesday night. Vince Velasquez (5-7, 4.93) pitches for the Phillies against Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (1-2, 7.24).
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