Phillies' Offensive Outburst Goes for Naught in ‘tough' Loss to Mariners


Phillies manager Pete Mackanin had to be feeling pretty good in the first inning Tuesday night as he watched his team jump out to a four-run lead against the Seattle Mariners on the strength of an RBI double by Odubel Herrera and back-to-back homers by Michael Saunders (two-run shot) and Tommy Joseph.
Not only was it nice to know that the bats were alive, but Mackanin had Jerad Eickhoff on the mound, his best starter last season, and if anyone could lock down that lead Mackanin sure liked Eick.
But Eickhoff could not protect the four-run lead and later in the game, the Phillies squandered a second four-run lead. It all added up to a 10-9 loss to the Mariners on the night Carlos Ruiz returned to Philadelphia.
"That was a tough one to lose, a slugfest like that," Mackanin said. "We had two four-run leads and they just kept picking at us.
"It's the kind of game you'd like to win when you score nine runs. We just fell short."
The Mariners broke a 9-all tie on Taylor Motter's RBI double with two outs in the top of the ninth against Hector Neris. Jean Segura had reached base on a one-out single and moved to second on a ground ball to first by Ben Gamel.
Gamel had four hits, including a three-run homer and a game-tying double. He raised his batting average from .310 to .362 and his OPS from .884 to 1.051.
Gamel also shined defensively. He threw out Daniel Nava, the potential go-ahead run, at the plate to end the bottom of the eighth. Nava had tried to score on Maikel Franco's fly ball to right field.
Franco had a tough night. Not only did he go 0 for 5 with three strikeouts - he is 0 for his last 14 - he committed a costly two-out fielding error in the sixth that ultimately led to two unearned runs as the Mariners staged their second comeback of the night.
Ruiz did not start the game for Seattle. He appeared as a pinch-hitter and flew out. He will start Wednesday's game. Franco most likely will not.
"I think he's a little down right now," Mackanin said. "I'll probably give him a day off to regroup. He looks a little confused at this point in time. We've got to get him back."
Franco was a little down after the game. He didn't hit and he didn't field. But he stood up and took the questions.
"I made an error with two outs," he said. "It was a bad game for me.
"I just have to try to forget this day and be ready for tomorrow."
Eickhoff also stood up after the game. He put the loss on himself after blowing that early four-run lead.
"I personally think I just let these guys down," he said. "It starts with me and that can't happen."
Eickhoff gave up eight hits, including two homers, and five runs in a career-short 3 2/3 innings.
"Poor command," Mackanin said. "I've never seen him where he didn't really have a good idea with most of his pitches. We haven't seen him like that but he's allowed to have a bad game once in a while."
Actually, Eickhoff had sputtered a little in his previous two starts. Over his last three starts, he has been tagged for 14 earned runs in 15 innings. He has allowed 22 hits.
"I just had some unlucky situations the previous games but today it just kind of came to a point," Eickhoff said. "I had trouble hitting spots.
"I was fighting myself early on. I was having trouble repeating my delivery, which is unusual. Just fighting myself and not being able to execute pitches early."
Eickhoff, usually a pretty stoic character, was visibly frustrated on the mound. He has let early leads slip away his last two starts.
"I'm usually good at putting (frustration) aside, but when I'm fighting my delivery I'm fighting my own battle and the guys in the box and that can't happen," he said. "I usually eliminate that but today I wasn't able to do that."
After leaving the game, Eickhoff watched video of his start with assistant pitching coach Rick Kranitz. They compared his work in the last couple of starts to his work from 2016. A mechanical flaw was detected.
"My lower half," the pitcher said. "I'm getting too rotational and not staying in my lane. It's a very easy fix just from looking at video from last year."
The ironic part of Eickhoff's poor outing was that he got mega run support. He usually has to hold out a tin cup to get support. Three of the runs that the Phillies scored came off the bat of Aaron Altherr as he clubbed his second three-run homer in as many games.
It went for naught.
"A lot of good things happened that should have created a win," Mackanin said. "But when your starter doesn't make it out of the fourth, it makes it difficult."

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