TTB’s own Chris Bengel covered the Philadelphia Phillies game tonight against the Colorado Rockies as a member of the media. Bengel has interned with the Gloucester County Times the past year and was in the press box tonight along with GCT staff writer Bill Evans. The rights to this story belong to GCT and NJ.com
PHILADELPHIA — Through all the Phillies’ offensive struggles lately, the pitching has been the only constant.
But on Thursday, the Phillies fell apart in several facets when starting pitcher Joe Blanton was scratched with soreness and inflammation in his right elbow, and Colorado’s Jason Giambi hit three home runs accounting for all the Rockies’ runs in a 7-1 victory over the Phillies.
Kyle Kendrick got the last-minute start in Blanton’s absence, but allowed two towering home runs to the 40-year old Giambi. The first baseman, in the lineup to spell Todd Helton, connected for a three-run shot in the first and two-run homer in the third.
“I didn’t do my job,” said Kendrick, who was removed after the third. “I wanted to go at least five and I didn’t help out the bullpen tonight.
“It’s frustrating, and you want to pitch well and help the team win.”
Giambi added a two-run homer off reliever Danys Baez in the fifth.
It was Giambi’s first career three-home run game and also tied a career high in RBIs. It was his first multi-home run game since May 9, 2009.
Giambi only had one home run and four RBIs on the season coming into Thursday night’s contest. He struck out in his final two place appearances.
“I talked to (manager) Jim Tracy and (hitting coach) Carney Lansford a little bit, and they got me standing more upright so I could get a little leverage on the ball,” said Giambi. “It helped me get to those balls inside, where before I was fouling them off. I asked them (Wednesday) night because I thought I was close, but I just wasn’t getting there.”
The Phillies offense continued its recent struggles, only recording six hits on the night and scuffling against Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin who went seven innings.
“We definitely have to hit better,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “We have to score more runs and we have to get guys on and play the game better. We don’t have balance in our lineup right now and we’re just searching for something. We don’t hit the ball good enough to score runs. We have to stay at it and keep going.”
One of the few bright spots for the Phillies was Raul Ibanez, who went two-for-four with an RBI. He was the only Phillie that registered more than one hit on the night.
In the fourth inning, Ibanez stroked an RBI double to right-center field to score Placido Polanco. Ross Gload would’ve also scored on the play, but Ibanez’s hit just cleared the center-field fence for a ground-rule double. Carlos Ruiz popped out with two runners in scoring position to end the inning.
The loss marked the sixth consecutive game in which the Phillie scored three runs or less. They are 1-5 in that stretch.
“We need to get our regular lineup out there every single day,” said shortstop Jimmy Rollins. “We just have to remember that we’re in first place and not feel like we’re in last place. It’s like that around here, and everyone knows about the struggles with not scoring runs and getting hits. It’s kind of weighing on everybody. We’re still in first place and that’s the mentality you have to have.
The Phillies received good performances from Scott Mathieson and Michael Stutes out of the bullpen, but the game was long lost before they entered. Stutes suffered an oblique injury that required him to leave the game on Tuesday.
NOTES — Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said center fielder Shane Victorino will likely be placed on the disabled list. The MRI he took before the game showed a Grade/Grade 2 hamstring strain.
2B: Ibanez (8).
WP: Chacin (5-2). LP: Kendrick (3-3).