A day that started with one of their top starting pitchers being placed on the injured list and two relievers being placed into COVID protocol only got worse for the Phillies once they played the game Tuesday night.
The Phillies suffered a 6-4 loss to the New York Yankees in the Bronx and missed out on an opportunity to pick up a game in the National League East standings.
Aaron Nola, pitching for the first time in two weeks, gave up two killer home runs, one in the fifth inning and one in the sixth, as the Yankees came back from a 2-1 deficit to win for the eighth time in their last 11 games.
The Yankees hit four solo homers in all.
The Phillies slipped to 47-46 and remained 2.5 games behind the first-place New York Mets, who lost in Cincinnati.
The Atlanta Braves, winners against San Diego on Tuesday, are just 3.5 games back. They come to Philadelphia to start a crucial four-game series on Thursday.
In addition to the long ball, the Phillies were doomed once again by poor defense. Shortstop Didi Gregorius made his ninth error in just 46 games this season with two outs in the fifth inning and it resulted in the Yankees scoring the tying run. Brett Gardner then homered on the next pitch Nola threw to give the Yankees a lead they never gave up.
According to Fangraphs, the Phillies are the second-worst defensive team in the majors. They entered the night with -27 defensive runs saved. Only Detroit ranked lower.
At the shortstop position, in particular, the Phils also ranked 29th in the majors with -15 DRS.
With Zach Eflin going on the IL with knee tendinitis before the game, the Phillies will be using his scheduled start Wednesday night as a bullpen game. That made it important that the Phillies got some length from Nola, but they didn’t.
After the Yankees scored two runs in the fifth, manager Joe Girardi sent Nola back to the mound at 92 pitches in the sixth. Gary Sanchez hit the third pitch of the inning far over the left field wall to give the Yankees a two-run lead.
The Phillies threatened in the seventh as J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper both singled with one out. Yankees manager Aaron Boone brought right-handed reliever Chad Green into the game. He walked Andrew McCutchen on four pitches to load the bases for Rhys Hoskins, who had hit his 21st homer in the second inning. Green threw Hoskins two straight balls to make it six in a row before coming back to strike out the Phillies slugger looking at a fastball that was just off the plate. Hoskins didn’t question the call.
After getting Hoskins to sit out, Green struck out Gregorius to end the threat and the Yankees extended their lead to three runs when Giancarlo Stanton took Brandon Kintzler deep in the bottom of the seventh.
The Phillies rallied for single runs in the eighth and ninth innings but one of those runs was offset by a Yankees homer in the eighth.
The Phils left 11 men on base, and that made matters worse.
Nola pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed seven hits, two of which landed over the wall. He also allowed a double and a triple. He hadn’t pitched in two weeks after landing in COVID protocol for coming in contact with infected teammate Alec Bohm. Neither player was symptomatic.
Bohm has been medically cleared to return.
Nola fell to 6-6 and his ERA climbed to an alarming 4.64. The right-hander has given up 17 homers in 106 2/3 innings. That’s as many as he gave up in 212 1/3 innings in 2018, the year he finished third in the NL Cy Young voting.