It’s kind of ironic that the Phillies held a promotion for children ages 14 and under to give away a Louisville Slugger with Charlie Manuel’s name engraved on the barrel. It seemed as though the bats belonging to the men in pinstripes found their way to the give-away pile as the Phillies only managed three hits in a 6-3 loss to Atlanta in extra innings. The loss put the Phillies back at five games behind Atlanta.
They wasted another tremendous start by one of the arms in the rotation. Cole Hamels fell victim this time around, allowing three runs in seven innings of work on eight hits and a walk. The lefty also struck out eight batters en route to a no decision. David Herndon got the loss, giving up a single and an RBI double for the go-ahead run before being lifted.
The offense manage to make Jair Jurrjens look like a Cy Young candidate tonight. He only allowed all three runs on two hits and three walks while striking out four. His ERA dropped to a 5.40. Yea, he’s a guy who gets lit every game and he manages to make this so-called great offense look like a group of blind-folded Mexicans swinging at a pinata just out of reach. Billy Wagner pitched in the 11th to earn his 18th save of the year.
Raul Ibanez’s two-run homer in the first, Ryan Howard’s RBI triple in the seventh and Shane Victorino’s infield single in the ninth were the only bit of offense the Phillies could muster. Other than that, nothing happened. It was in the high 90’s when the game started and was still humid throughout the game. They made Jurrjens throw 28 pitches in the first inning and then swung at everything after. In this heat, you make a pitcher throw, wear him down, and then hit him around. It’s simple, guys.
The Phillies had a chance to win this game in the seventh inning. After Ibanez led off with a walk, Howard ripped an opposite field shot that just missed leaving the park. It was misread by Matt Diaz and skidded towards the left foul line. Ibanez hustled his way to score and Howard made it to third easily for his fourth triple on the season. The score was now 3-3 and the Phillies were poised to take the lead again.
What happened next was another example of why this offense is absolutely frustrating to watch. With no outs still and Howard standing on third, Jayson Werth struck out looking, barely lifting the bat off his shoulders. If anyone is to be taken out back and have sense beaten into him, it’s Werth. He’s in a contract year and has been absolutely unreliable, let alone leading the team in strike outs.
But that wasn’t the only opportunity to drive in Howard. Ben Francisco followed up with a soft hump-back liner to shallow center that wasn’t deep enough to score Howard. With two outs, Wilson “Double Play” Valdez (only GDIP’ed once tonight) hit a soft roller to third that he couldn’t beat out, ending the inning and leaving the score tied.
Matt Diaz was the star of tonight’s game. He went 3-for-5 and ripped two doubles, the latter driving in Yunel Escobar as the winning run in the top of the 11th. Eric Hinske hit a two-run blast in the 11th off of Mike Zagurski as a couple of insurance runs. Martin Prado also had a great game, homering in the seventh.
The Phillies offense has been dreaful the past two months. One amazing stat I heard today was that the Phillies have scored eight or more runs in 20 games this year. And in the games following, they’re 4-16. The past years, you could be confident that the Phillies would not go down with out a fight when trailing by three runs or less in the late innings. Now it seems this team has no offensive spark.
Injuries have ultimately torn this team apart and it all starts at the lead-0ff spot. Jimmy Rollins is not getting the job done and neither is Victorino. Both of them are bad options to lead-off with. Placido Polanco’s absence is taking away a hitter from the top of the order that will get on base. With no Chase Utley, Ibanez is forced to bat third, thus leaving Werth unprotected in the five-hole. The after Werth, you have Greg Dobbs, Valdez/Juan Castro, and Dane Sardinha/Brian Schneider before the pitcher’s spot. That’s five hitters filling three spots that are hitting .227. That’s embarrassing!
Schnieder will be back in the line-up tomorrow and hopefully will provide a bat that Sardinha is just not giving the Phils.
3B: Howard (4). HR: Ibanez (7).
WP: Chavez (1-1). LP: Herndon (0-2). S: Wagner (18).