SAN DIEGO — For the second night in a row, a highly touted Phillies prospect belted his first big-league home run.
Other highlights were difficult to find in an 8-4 loss to the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay).
The Phillies (43-74) are the worst team in baseball and they looked every bit of it as they were held hitless for the first 4 2/3 innings, had just four hits through the first eight innings, made two errors, misplayed another ball, walked five batters and hit another.
The sloppiness began early as work-in-progress leftfielder Rhys Hoskins, in just his sixth big-league game at the position, misplayed a catchable ball that would have ended the first inning into an RBI double. Starting pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. walked the next batter then surrendered a two-run double as the Padres put three quick ones on the board.
Leiter was tagged for four more runs in the fifth inning, but all were unearned after errors by third baseman Maikel Franco and catcher Jorge Alfaro.
Leiter allowed seven hits, including two homers, three walks (all of them scored) and hit a batter in five innings of work. Still, he may have given up just one run had he gotten some defensive support.
"He wasn't at his best, but our defense let us down," manager Pete Mackanin said.
Leiter would not blame the defense.
"That’s baseball," he said when asked about Hoskins' misplay in the first inning. "You just have to keep going and make the next pitch and get the next guy, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to get the next guy and it cost us a couple of runs. I have to do better. I have to find a way to get that out."
Hoskins' misplay came on a liner to his left by lefty-hitting Yangervis Solarte.
"That’s a tough play, especially off a left-handed bat," Mackanin said. "He looks sure-handed out there. It was just one of those plays you’ve got to be out there for a while to know how to read. It's understandable."
Alfaro, the rookie catcher, had the Phillies' first hit with two outs in the top of the fifth inning and it was memorable on a couple of fronts.
First, it was his first big-league home run.
Second, he killed it.
The two-run homer came off the bat at 114 miles per hour, making it the hardest-hit homer by a Phillie this season. It traveled 413 feet over the center-field wall and did so on a low line.
"I thought it was going to be a double off the wall," Alfaro said.
"That was a missile," Mackanin said.
"The launch angle wasn't quite high enough," he added with a laugh. "You don’t normally see home runs with that low of a trajectory off the bat. It was cool to see.
"That's why we like him. If you watch him in batting practice, you see the power."
Alfaro's first big-league homer came one night after Hoskins hit his first and second big-league homers. He added a two-run home run in the ninth inning Tuesday night as the Phillies cut into the Padres' lead but could not come all the way back.
The Phillies played without their best hitter, Odubel Herrera. He was out with a sore left hamstring (see story). Padres rookie Dinelson Lamet, who entered his 14th big-league start with an ERA of 5.00, capitalized on a weakened Phillies' lineup and pitched seven innings of three-hit, two-run ball. He walked one and struck out seven.
Rookie reliever Jesen Therrien was the Phillies' most effective pitcher with two scoreless innings and three strikeouts. He showed a tight, hard, downward-breaking slider — a weapon.
"I finally saw that slider we saw in the spring," Mackanin said. "That's very encouraging."