The first inning of today’s Phillies – Padres match-up was a microcosm of the issues that have been plaguing the Phils since the middle of May. The offense started off with two hits, then they loaded the bases with one out and Jayson Werth hit a weak grounder into a double play to end the inning. Two batters before that, Chase Utley had popped out with 2 men on base.
Werth and Utley, previously two of the teams’ best hitters, are quickly becoming the poster-children for killing rallies. Phillies fans everywhere are losing patience waiting for the two sluggers to find their swings again. Fans used to look forward to seeing them bat. Now, all you can do is cringe when they step to the plate and begin counting the different ways they might kill an inning; will it be a double play? A pop-up? A strike-out? Or maybe the bat will spontaneously combust due to lack of use, rendering him helpless at the plate…the possibilities are endless.
Once again, the real victim of this disgusting and seemingly unending offensive slump is the starting pitcher.
Cole Hamels had a no-hitter working through 6 innings. He finally surrendered back-to-back homers in the 7th to end the streak, but with just those two runs allowed, Hamels more than did his job. It is just one more outstanding pitching performance gone to waste by the Phils offensive offense.
Eight full innings and just 3 hits later, Hamels found himself still without any assistance from his teammates. The pinch hitters failed again in the bottom of the 8th with both Greg Dobbs and Ross Gload going down in flames. Danys Baez pitched the 9th and put the Phillies in a deeper hole by giving up a homer to Adrian Gonzalez, his second of the night.
The Phillies tried to battle back in the bottom of the 9th; Placido Polanco singled, followed by another Utley out. Ryan Howard drove Polanco in but then Werth stepped to the plate and, as has been the trend, he struck out. The Phillies lose 1-3, but I suppose the good news is that at least it was not another shut-out.
Besides the huge disappointment today in the Phillies majors, the minor leagues reported one more bit if depressing news. The “big” prospect the Phillies got in the Cliff Lee trade, pitcher Phillipe Aumont, was demoted to single-A ball after sporting a 10.61 ERA in AA-ball. Remember back in Spring Training when the same guy gave up 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning in an exhibition game against a college team in his first Phillies action? And afterwards, he blamed it on the pressure of being traded for Cliff Lee? Oh yeah, that guy.
So, we get our first peek at how beneficial that trade really was. If Aumont cannot handle pressure, what good is he? And do you really think the Mariners were unaware of this when they sent him packing? I doubt it. Talent and potential are great, but I am pretty sure in the life-game of rock, paper, scissors, that mental toughness trumps both. But hey, Lee will be available again at the trade deadline this year; think the Mariners will take Aumont back? Ha, ha…I crack myself up ;o)
The draft took place tonight and the Phillies have selected a local; Jesse Biddle, a left-handed pitcher, from Philly. Best of luck to the young pitcher!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Happy Bunny by Jim Benton