January 29, 2023

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Nola settles in, but Phils fall short vs. M's

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SEATTLE — For the Phillies, Tuesday was an evening full of weird plays, questionable calls, and some just plain bad luck.

The offense managed just five hits in a 5-4 loss to the Mariners and struggled to find its footing against Seattle ace left-hander Robbie Ray, who twirled a two-hit, 10-strikeout gem over 5 2/3 innings, just one night after Philadelphia pounded out 17 hits in Monday’s series opener at T-Mobile Park.

On Monday, the bats were hot. On Tuesday, they were cold. That’s just how it goes in baseball sometimes. It’s a weird game.

“It’s baseball,” Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “That’s why we love it, that’s why we hate it, and that’s why it brings you back in.”

The weirdest play on Tuesday came in the top of the second inning.

With the Mariners leading, 2-0, catcher Luis Torrens reached base on a single, and he took second on a throwing error by Phillies starter Aaron Nola. One batter later, second baseman Adam Frazier hit a ground ball to Philadelphia second baseman Jean Segura.

Segura’s throw was in the dirt, but Hoskins scooped it up. On the play though, Frazier ran into Hoskins’ glove, which knocked the ball loose. Frazier was called safe, and Torrens scored to make it a 3-0 game.

Phils manager Joe Girardi argued the call, and he was eventually ejected by third-base umpire Bill Miller. While Girardi disagreed with the call itself, he was most angry about the explanation.

First-base umpire Brian Knight told Girardi that Hoskins hadn’t controlled the ball, but when the skipper walked out of the dugout to ask for a review because he felt that Frazier interfered with the play, Girardi was told that the 20-second replay window had already passed.

“When I walked out of the dugout, he said ‘No, time’s up,’” Girardi said. “No chance, time’s up.”

Another weird thing about Tuesday night’s game came at the expense of the Phillies’ pitching staff. The Phils gave up 11 hits, six of which were infield singles.

Nola, who took the loss after allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits and one walk over 5 1/3 innings, settled down after a rough first two frames. The right-hander gave up three runs in the first two innings on seven hits. Over the final 3 1/3 innings of his outing, Nola allowed just two knocks, one a third-inning single to Jesse Winker, the other a sixth-inning single to Torrens.

Nola, who had a 3.38 ERA and a 0.865 WHIP coming into Tuesday’s game, fell to 1-4.

“It was a weird game, especially the first two innings,” Nola said. “It’s baseball, and they hit the ball in perfect spots, and we weren’t. I can’t really do nothing about it, I just try to control what I can control tonight. Tough loss.”

For Girardi, Nola’s strange run of bad luck is a source of ongoing frustration.

“He pitched great. It’s really a shame,” Girardi said. “That’s probably as frustrating an outing as you can have as a pitcher.”

On offense, Ray’s dominance simply left the Phillies at a disadvantage.

After Ray retired the first 12 batters he faced, the Phils’ first hit came in the top of the fifth inning, when Nick Castellanos led off with a home run. Segura scored later in the inning to bring the Phillies within a run at 3-2.

Ray got out of the inning on a Castellanos groundout, and he then struck out the first two batters of the sixth. After a two-out double to Bryce Harper, Ray was pulled for Andrés Muñoz.

“He kept us off-balance in the earlier innings,” Hoskins said. “I thought we had really good at-bats … but didn’t have anything to show for it. But we made him work. He spiked a few balls, and we got into some longer at-bats. I think that is just what this lineup can do.”

The Mariners extended the lead to 5-2 in the sixth as Ty France was hit by reliever Brad Hand with the bases loaded and J.P. Crawford drove in Torrens with a sacrifice fly, but Hoskins made it a 5-3 game with a home run in the seventh inning. Segura pulled the Phillies to within one run in the ninth, with his second home run of the series.

The Phillies made it close, but they couldn’t overcome a slow start to an odd game.

“It was just one of those nights,” Girardi said.

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