The Phillies had a very unique opportunity this weekend to bury the competition in the NL East. Note I said “had.” The Nationals, although they have won 7 in a row putting the Phils to shame, are too far back to catch up. The Mets have buried themselves. And the Braves are bouncing up and down, but so far, posing no real threat. So, with three games against the Marlins who are closest in the division to the Phillies, this was the time to fry them for good. But that is simply not happening and the Phillies have just made their lives a lot more difficult.
The 4-6 loss last night was a nightmare for several reasons. After dropping these two in a row against the Fish, the Phillies have given them hope. And going into game three today, that is not a good thing. Add to that the slow and painful destruction of Cole Hamels, our former MVP, and a lot of heads in that clubhouse have got to be hanging low right now. Hamels was only able to get through 5 1/3 innings while allowing 4 runs on 5 hits and 4 walks. While he had a wicked curve ball working, he seemed hesitant to throw it more often. And with his fastball command still being way off, his changeup was less effective. The hesitation on the curveball leads one to wonder if his elbow is still bothering him or if it is just a mental thing, where he is afraid to reinjure the elbow. The only one who really knows is Hamels and he is not talking.
The offense continued its slumber as the few runners the Phillies managed to get on base looked like they were stranded on a deserted island with no hope of rescue. Although Ryan Howard emerged from his recent slump and went 4 for 4 with a walk, he scored only 1 time as his teammates could not find the life raft and get him home. Shane Victorino had 2 hits in his first start back after nursing a swollen calf, but he also became part of the 11 men left on base. Jayson Werth was moved up a spot in the line-up to break up the left-handed bats, but he went 0 for 5 and may as well have stayed where he was in the 6-hole. The Marlins even played sloppy defense, had 2 errors in the game and still, the Phillies could not capitalize.
And now the really unfortunate situation is here; the Phillies will try to salvage one win, but to do so, they will have to hit the Marlins best pitcher, Josh Johnson. And even though Jamie Moyer usually does well against the Fish (13-2 lifetime), he will have to be near perfect to give this sleepy offense a chance to wake up. I will be at the game this afternoon and return with photos and a recap. Wish me luck!
Howard photo by Jenn