Before the game even started, the evening seemed to have an ominous feeling to it as relief pitchers JD Hammer and Brady Falter were placed on the COVID-19 list. For a team with nearly half their roster unvaccinated, the woes continued.
Phillies have more COVID issues that arose during batting practice. Pitchers Bailey Falter and JD Hammer were placed on the COVID-related list.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) July 20, 2021
However, it was Aaron Nola’s day on the mound and after significant time off with the All-Star break and being placed on the COVID-19 list himself, hopes were high that he would come out feeling refreshed. Instead, Nola, who has been inconsistent at best this season, gave up four earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched. Much of the damage was done by solo home run blasts by New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner in the fifth inning and catcher Gary Sanchez in the sixth.
Jose Alvarado pulled off some Houdini magic in the sixth when he relieved Nola after one out and shut the door on the inning despite loading the bases.
Despite consistent production from the bottom of the lineup to start the game, the top of lineup decided not to show up to the game until the top of the seventh. In what was perhaps Philadelphia’s best chance to score some runs and catch up to the Yankees, they fell flat. Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto, and Bryce Harper all managed to get on to load the bases in the top seventh. However, Andrew McCutchen, Rhys Hoskins, and Didi Gregorious were all sat down in order to eliminate the threat.
Things would not get better as Phillies manager Joe Girardi turned to Brandon Kintzler in the bottom of the seventh only for him to give up a long ball to Giancarlo Stanton. The homers would prove to be their undoing.
The Phillies had one last shot to even things up in the eighth, when once again, the bottom of the lineup worked their way on base and Segura hit an RBI single. Yet, it would prove to be too little too late after Realmuto grounded into a double play and De Lo Santos gave up another home run to Florial in the bottom of the inning.
On a positive note, Hoskins and Harper both had standout games. Hoskins homered in the second to get the scoring started and the latter secured two hits and a walk. McCutchen also launched a solo home run in the top of the ninth, to make the score line seem a little closer than it actually was. In the end, the offense just couldn’t string hits together to combat New York who had, on the surface, looked like they composed a lineup while blindfolded.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the evening, other than not gaining ground on the NL East-leading New York Mets, was Nola. Once considered an ace of the staff, he has looked lost at times this season with his lack of command and questionable pitch selection. His propensity to give up the long ball has hindered his ability to go deep into games when it counts. This game was one of those in which Nola pitching quality innings would have gone a long way in helping the bullpen who is preparing to go the distance on Wednesday after Zach Eflin was placed on the injured list with a nagging knee injury.
Regardless, the Phillies still sit just 2.5 games back of the Mets after they lost to the Cincinnati Reds. Philadelphia will be looking to split the series with the Yankees and get back on track Wednesday night.