Both literally and figuratively, the Phillies dropped the ball tonight. After an off-day yesterday, the team sauntered into Atlanta and looked a bit sluggish, instead of rejuvenated. Batting against Derek Lowe is generally no picnic, but they had some opportunities. Chase Utley did his part, going 2 for 5 with a solo home run; and Pedro Feliz had a good night at the plate, playing outstanding defense in the field as well. Joe Blanton had a so-so start; he went 5 innings and allowed 3 runs. But most of the game was tight, without much action.
In fact, up until the 8th inning, the most entertaining part of the game was watching Braves pitcher, Mike Gonzalez swoon back and forth on the mound like a weeble-wobble. No one was sure whether he was going to pitch or break dance. That is one confused dude. But his antics on the mound translated into back-to-back solo homers for the Phillies to give them a 4-3 lead. John Mayberry and Feliz joined forces to knock the silliness right out of the Braves pitcher.
But the Braves tied the game back up in the bottom of the 8th, thanks to a dropped ball by Ryan Howard (bad feed from Madson), which allowed a runner to advance, and then Jayson Werth juggled another ball in the outfield. Poor Ryan Madson just cannot catch a break lately when he is on the mound. And these defensive mishaps would cost the Phillies the game. Chan Ho Park got into trouble in the 10th inning with runners on 1st & 3rd and 1 out; the next batter hit a long fly ball to left field, which sealed the deal.
In addition to the loss, what also rings a few alarm bells around Philadelphia is the performance of Jimmy Rollins. After being given a 4-game “mental” break / benching, Rollins came back today to resume his leadoff spot. But frankly, it appears that nothing has changed. Rollins still swung at bad pitches, very early in his at-bats and he had one shaky play in the field as well, missing a fairly routine ground ball that he normally would have snagged. J-Roll ended the game without a hit in 5 at-bats and looks no closer to waking up than he did a week ago. Has someone chained him down with Kryptonite? Or is this just a phase? A long, drawn-out, ridiculously bad phase… Only time will tell. However, the Phillies are nearing the half-way point of the season and time is a luxury they will not soon have.
Rollins Photo by Jenn