MIAMI — The Phillies and Marlins are stuck in the realm of irrelevant baseball. Almost 20 percent of their remaining games will be played against one another. They are more than opponents; reportedly, they are the subjects of fantastical trade rumors because this time of summer generates wild ideas.
For nine innings Monday, they were equals. But the Phillies committed the kind of mistakes that have hamstrung them all season. They could not move runners when needed. They failed to deliver when just a flyout would have sufficed. They failed to execute bunts. They could not keep the opponent in the ballpark.
So the Phillies lost a one-run game, 6-5, for the 25th time this season. The modern record for one-run losses in a season is 44, by the 1968 Chicago White Sox. The Phillies are on pace to match that.
This game was weird. The Phillies, in two different innings, used five infielders and two outfielders. They escaped unscathed in the ninth inning. But that forced Ty Kelly, a veteran of four innings in right field, to play the position in the 10th because there was no other option. He could not catch a ball that ended up a triple and led to the eventual winning run.
Long before that, Cameron Perkins outjumped Odubel Herrera for a deep fly at the wall. Perkins caught both the ball and Herrera. And the Phillies scored four runs with two outs in the third inning.
“That was huge,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.
It still ended in defeat.
Now, a few words on the Phillies’ reported interest in Miami’s outfielders, namely Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich: Yes, the Phillies like both players. There are 28 other teams in baseball who like both players. The Marlins still like both players. Miami does not have a stable ownership situation, and it is unclear whether its front office is even authorized to deal a “controllable” player until that is rectified.
A trade involving one of those players over the next two weeks, according to three major-league sources, is highly unlikely. Could it ever happen? Maybe.
There may not be a team in baseball better equipped than the Phillies to assume the remaining $295 million on Stanton’s contract (following this season). But that does not mean they would be comfortable doing that; Stanton turns 28 this winter and averaged 486 plate appearances per season from 2012-16. Stanton owns a full no-trade clause. He has expressed his desire not to be involved in another rebuilding process. He is said to prefer the West Coast, if he is to depart Miami.
The Phillies, hypothetically, have little to lose by keeping contact with the Marlins about those coveted players — especially Yelich. Miami is under no pressure to deal Yelich. And outfield is a position of strength within the Phillies’ organization. The Phillies have spent their last three first-round picks on outfielders.
So it’s fun to dream about Stanton or Yelich playing half of his games at Citizens Bank Park, but it is nothing more than a dream. For now.
The present task is to pluck those who belong from those who do not.
Stanton obliterated two Jerad Eickhoff fastballs for homers. Eickhoff lacked sharpness in his six innings.
“When you give a hitter in a hitter’s count a fastball anywhere close to being over the plate, that’s what he’s going to do,” Eickhoff said. “Same thing happened with the second one, too. That’s going to happen. Honestly, I wasn’t worried about those.”
He was more upset about the two-run homer Justin Bour hit on a first-pitch fastball.
It was just the third time in 57 career starts that he surrendered three or more homers. It was the fourth time in his career that he walked four or more hitters. Three of those starts have come this season.
“He got hurt by the long ball, obviously,” Mackanin said. “[Stanton] is leading the National League in home runs. So that happens. The other one, he just made a bad pitch.”
Eickhoff has a 4.83 ERA. The Phillies expected better.