DETROIT - They struck out 18 times.
They had one hit in nine chances with a runner in scoring position.
They went 12 straight innings without scoring a run.
Plenty went wrong for the Phillies on Tuesday night.
But plenty went right, too.
The Phils got a good start from Aaron Nola, great work from the bullpen, a huge defensive play late in the game and even the mostly anemic offense came up big in the 15th inning. Yes, the 15th inning. The Phils' 3-2 win over the lowly Detroit Tigers in 15 innings left them at 53-48 for the season and scurrying back to the team hotel to sleep fast before Wednesday afternoon's 1:10 first pitch (see observations).
Tuesday night's game ended at 12:17 a.m.
But even at that hour, there was a lot of life in the clubhouse because a win is a win even when you have to work past midnight to beat the second-worst team in baseball.
"It definitely would have been a lot worse to go that long and lose," said Nola, who pitched seven innings of two-run ball. "It's a lot sweeter when you win a game like that. It was a good, all-around team win."
The bullpen, led by Nick Pivetta's 3 2/3 scoreless innings and five strikeouts, and Jose Alvarez's strong work in the final two innings, accounted for eight scoreless innings.
"Any time you get pitching like we did, you want to win that game," Rhys Hoskins said.
The Phillies' offense remains a big concern. The team has scored just six runs in the last three games. If that famine continues, the Phils won't stay in the playoff race.
Despite the poor offense, however, the Phils have won two straight one-run games in extra innings. Hoskins has knocked in the go-ahead run in both. He homered in the 11th to lead a 2-1 win in Pittsburgh on Sunday. He followed that with an RBI single in the 15th Tuesday night. The hit scored Scott Kingery, who had led off the frame with a triple after striking out four times earlier in the game.
"You've always got to want that next at-bat," Hoskins said. "Props to Scott."
The big hits by Kingery and Hoskins came moments after leftfielder Brad Miller, who had entered the game in the 12th, made the defensive play of the game, gunning down Nicholas Castellanos at the plate in the bottom of the 14th. Catcher J.T. Realmuto made a nice play to sweep back across the plate and get Castellanos as his hand was about to touch the plate. An inch either way and Castellanos scores and it's game over, awful loss.
"We didn't have another chance," Hoskins said. "I don't know if people realize how tough that is, sitting for 12 innings then coming in and making a play like that. It was just outstanding.
Miller knew Castellanos would try to score from second on the hit by Brandon Dixon.
"What it is, midnight?" Miller said. "You have to send him. Luckily it was hit right at me and J.T. made a hell of a tag."
Detroit's pitching was pretty good, too. (Or was it that the Phillies' offense was just that bad?) Tigers' starter Matthew Boyd held the Phils to two runs over six innings. Both came on a two-run homer by Roman Quinn in the second inning. Boyd struck out eight. The lefty is one of the most coveted arms on the trade market and the Phillies are interested, along with many other clubs. Phils general manager Matt Klentak attended the game, but said his trip to Detroit was long planned and only coincidental with Boyd making the start.
"It's a little overblown that Matt Klentak is in here to scout Matthew Boyd," Klentak said before the game. "I think that is probably unfair to our scouts who scout these guys year round to think that I could come in and do something that they do. This trip has been planned since spring training. I'll watch the game just like everybody else, but I am not here specifically to watch any (trade) targets or future targets."
The Tigers have set a high price for Boyd – multiples of top, young talent – and the Phillies intend to be protective of their best prospects. So it seems like Boyd will end up somewhere else, though you never know. It did not appear Realmuto would be a Phillie last winter until he was.
"He's got good stuff," Hoskins said of Boyd. "I can see why he's had the success he has."
And how would he look in red pinstripes?
"I think he'd look great," Hoskins said.
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