Cristopher Sanchez had allowed just four hits through five scoreless innings when he was pulled by Rob Thomson at 82 pitches Friday night.
It wasn’t a stunning managerial decision — Sanchez has been lifted after five innings in four of his last 12 starts and faced 20 batters as opposed to his season average of 21 — but it sure stood out 10 minutes later when Seranthony Dominguez allowed a two-out, game-tying home run to pinch-hitter Jesus Sanchez.
The Marlins took a lead the next inning when light-hitting catcher Jacob Stallings homered off of Matt Strahm and the Phillies were unable to come back in a 3-2 loss.
Thomson explained that he wanted Dominguez to face right-handed-hitting Jake Burger, who has 31 bombs on the season and doubled off Sanchez in the first inning.
“If we would have added on in the fifth, I probably would have sent him back out,” Thomson said. “I’m not concerned but I’m monitoring (his workload) because I don’t want to put him in harm’s way.”
Sanchez is about 30 innings past his prior career high. He gave the standard answer when asked if he was surprised to be removed early, saying he respected the decision.
Asked how much he felt he had left in the tank, Sanchez didn’t hesitate. “Muchismo,” he said. A lot more.
It wasn’t as if Sanchez had encountered trouble just before his exit Friday. He retired the final five Marlins he faced with a strikeout and four groundouts. Thomson’s decision, though, was not the only reason the Phillies lost. The 4-through-9 hitters went 1-for-21 with two walks.
The Phillies missed an opportunity to gain a game on the Cubs, who were shut out earlier in the day by the Diamondbacks. The Phils are 77-63 with 22 games left. They lead the Cubs by two games for the top National League wild-card spot and also have the head-to-head tiebreaker, so the lead is essentially three games.
Sanchez has a 3.26 ERA in 15 starts and has allowed more than three earned runs once. He will make another turn in the Phillies’ rotation next Wednesday at home against the Braves. The Phils have a doubleheader Monday with Atlanta so they’ll utilize the six-man rotation one more time before regrouping during next Thursday’s off-day and charting a path from there.
Dominguez (seven blown saves) has had a rocky season but had rattled off seven straight scoreless appearances prior to Friday. It was the first home run he’s allowed since July 30 in Pittsburgh.
Earlier in the night, the story looked like Trea Turner, who returned from paternity leave and picked up right where he left off after missing two games. He continued his torrid stretch of more than a month with a first-inning home run. He fell behind 0-2, then sent an 86 mph slider from Eury Perez into the left-field seats for his 23rd home run of the season.
“It was cool,” Turner said. “I tend to not think about those things in the moment but Rhys (Hoskins) was like, ‘Don’t you want that ball?’ Probably a good idea. So I traded a couple autographis for it, pretty cool moment. I’m just happy I put a good swing on it.”
Two innings later, Turner manufactured a run by walking with two outs, stealing second base and scoring on Bryce Harper’s bloop to shallow center. He singled again in the fifth inning.
Turner, who’s hit .383 since August 5 with 13 homers, 25 extra-base hits and 33 RBI in 28 games, came up in a big spot in the bottom of the seventh with the tying and go-ahead runs on base. He struck out swinging. Bryce Harper walked to load the bases and Nick Castellanos grounded out on the first pitch to end that threat.
“A lot of travel, but everybody’s healthy and home and good and that’s all you can ask for,” Turner said.
“Just playing good ball. I was worried — not worried, but I’m glad my timing was still there. I didn’t know if a couple days (away) would be a little weird, but when you’re out there you kind of just react and play.”
The Phillies went down 1-2-3 in the eighth and ninth innings. They are 5-6 this season against the Marlins, who are desperate and a half-game behind the Diamondbacks for the final wild-card spot.
The three-game series continues Saturday at 6:40 p.m. when Aaron Nola (12-9, 4.55) opposes veteran right-hander Johnny Cueto (1-3, 5.54). The Phillies are missing Sandy Alcantara after seeing him in 11 consecutive Phils-Marlins series. He was placed on the injured list Thursday with a right forearm strain.