The Phillies lost a close one Wednesday night but, again, it wasn’t because of their fifth starter.
Cristopher Sanchez, who owns a 2.61 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in six starts since being recalled from Triple A in mid-June, allowed one earned run over five innings in a 5-3 Phillies loss.
Jeff Hoffman, who’s been lights-out over his last eight appearances, pitched 1⅓ innings in relief. He walked the leadoff batter in his second frame and that runner came around to score when William Contreras hit an RBI single off Matt Strahm with two outs in the seventh.
That was the game-deciding run.
A few hours earlier, Dave Dombrowski said, “I don’t think there’s the need,” to go out and acquire a starting pitcher ahead of the trade deadline with how capably Sanchez has filled the fifth spot.
“I don’t think there’s the need,” the Phillies’ president of baseball operations said Wednesday afternoon, “but I also don’t think you ever close anything up at this time of year. And I’m not going to say much more because I’m not going to exactly tip my hand on what we’re trying to do.”
A right-handed hitting corner outfielder would make the most sense as a Phillies trade deadline target, but that is contingent on Bryce Harper effectively transitioning to first base, where he’s been working out for more than two months. Harper was initially lined up to make his debut at first base in this series but won’t do so until at least this weekend in Cleveland.
“You’re always looking to get better anyway that you possibly can,” Dombrowski said. “Part of what we need is based upon what happens with Bryce. Because if Bryce can move to first base, it allows us then to free up the DH spot and put Kyle there a little bit more at that time, and then, we have the ability to decide what we want to do in left field — or the outfield, period. I think really what we’re looking for a little bit is somebody that can swing the bat from the right-hand side, but not just any position either.”
A second-inning error by third baseman Edmundo Sosa, who later redeemed himself with a run-saving diving catch on a line shot, led to a crooked number from the Brewers. Jahmai Jones hit a ball hard directly to Sosa’s left that nicked his glove and went into left field. It was his eighth error in 50 starts this season at the hot corner.
The Brewers went on to score three times in the inning on a pair of doubles. Two of the runs were unearned, and perhaps none would have scored if Sosa fielded the ball cleanly.
The Phillies came back to tie in the bottom of the fifth on a two-run single by Kyle Schwarber, who has driven in 10 runs in six games since the All-Star break. Nick Castellanos homered an inning earlier.
But the Brewers’ offense did just enough, turning their seventh-inning leadoff walk into a run charged to Hoffman, who has retired 31 of the last 35 hitters he’s faced.
The Phillies are 52-43. They remain in the final National League wild-card spot with a half-game lead over the Marlins, who also lost.
The three-game series with Milwaukee ends Thursday afternoon at 12:35 when Taijuan Walker opposes Brewers ace Corbin Burnes.