Is it bad luck or bad baseball? It looked like luck may have been in the Phillies favor when Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka was sent to the DL minutes before the game started today. Dice-K beat up the Phillies in their last meeting, so this must be good news. Scott Atchison, a career minor leaguer who also played in Japan, made his first career major league start in place of Dice-K. Again, this seemed like good news, right?
Wrong. Because absolutely nothing has gone well for the Phillies lately, and this game would be no different. Joe Blanton has been as bad as he could be since coming off the DL in early May. By the 2nd inning of this game, Blanton had given up 34 runs, 11 homers and 11 walks in 45 innings pitched this year.
And the damage did not end there…Blanton allowed 9 runs total, matching Jamie Moyer yesterday, on 13 hits and a walk by the time he was done, after 4 pathetic innings. His ERA is now 7.28.
Blanton loaded the bases in the 2nd inning, right after the offense scored two runs for him. He then threw ONE pitch to rookie, Daniel Nava, who in his first major league at-bat, hit a grand slam! Unbelievable. It looked like the Phillies had morphed into a black cat with a #13 tattoo, under a black cloud standing on top of a broken mirror, sprinkled with spilled salt. But was that bad luck or just Joe Blah-anton?
Blanton needs to go. Obviously, no one will want him with his gigantic 7.28 ERA and gigantic salary, so what are the options? Put him back on the DL or send him to the minors. Brett Myers did this voluntarily back in 2008 and came back to help them win the World Series. The Phillies can bring back Nelson Figueroa or someone else from the minors. I would rather see a rookie get raked for 9 runs than a veteran who is not living up to his end of the deal. How about Nate Bump? He has some experience and was recently clocked at 103mph. Go get him!
The Phillies have made a lot of mistakes this year and last, many of which have been overshadowed by the acquisition of Roy Halladay. Letting Myers go was clearly an error in judgment. I said it before, but because most people have a personal dislike of Myers, most were happy to see him go. For the Astros this year, Myers has not allowed more than 4 runs in any game, has not pitched fewer than 6 innings in any game and his ERA is a very respectable 3.18.
And do not even get me started on Cliff Lee. Because the Mariners are not doing well, Lee will likely be traded before the deadline and it looks like he may wind up in the NL East. Imagine this: Lee goes to Mets or the Braves who make the playoffs, leaving the Phillies in the dust. You want to throw up right now, don’t you?
And remember signing a 36 year-old Raul Ibanez, now 38, to a 3-year contract? It looked like a good idea for ½ a year in 2009; now, not so much. Raul, we still love ya, but things are not going well. Ibanez is hitting .247 and is getting slower in the outfield.
The Phillies also extended Blanton’s contract this off-season, giving him 3 more years and $24 million dollars. They noted his “consistency,” which I have never agreed with, and his ability to pitch many innings as reasons for the extension. Well, all those innings have taken their toll as evidenced by Blanton’s current ERA plus the pre-season injury and DL stint.
By the way, the Phillies offense died after Blanton dug a huge hole for them. The managed only 7 hits and 3 of those came from back-up catcher Brian Schneider. The Phillies went on to lose the game by a score of 2-10.
I could go on, but I think that is enough for one day. The Phillies have now slid from 1st place to 3rd place in the NL East and if the Marlins keep winning, they will be in 4th place shortly. I mentioned holding off on hitting the panic button last week; well, it is now time. Let the panic begin. This past month may be a foretelling of the horror to come.
Photoshopping by Jenn
Spiraling deeper into one of the worst slumps in recent history, the Phillies capped of a horrible road trip today by getting swept by the Braves in a 3-game series.
They were also swept by the Mets in this same road trip, which ended with a record of 2 wins and 7 losses. The Phillies look so bad, it appears they are standing in quick sand; the harder they struggle, the deeper they become buried in the abyss.
When I saw Chase Utley ground into a double play today with 1 out and the bases loaded, I knew this may be a sign of the apocalypse. Utley normally waits until he sees a strike to swing, but in this instance, he swung at ball 2 and murdered a potential game winning inning. Utley is not the type of player who does this, but in his last 7 games and 26 at-bats, he has only 3 hits.
Basically the same thing can be said for the entire team; but how does an entire team go into a slump all at once? I had once thought this was impossible; someone must be hitting, right? Nope. They have scored only 14 runs in their last 11 games after leading the entire league in runs scored.
Plus, good pitching has gone to waste, like today with Kyle Kendrick who did an outstanding job. Maybe Jose Contreras does not like Kendrick, because the only two games he has lost all year have been started by Kendrick. With a 1-1 tie, Contreras gave up a run and the game. And all that after poor Kyle pitched 7 innings of 1 run ball.
The Phillies have a day off tomorrow to try and figure out what ails them. If they come back on Friday and score a bunch of runs, ok fine. But if they flop again, I do believe it will officially be time to panic. Here are just a few suggestions to the Phillies for their off-day in order to relax and loosen things up a bit:
1 – Go to the zoo and pet something furry; just make sure it is not Jayson Werth before you do. If you are Jayson Werth, what can I say…feel free.
2 – Find Howard Eskin and punch him in the face; you know you want to.
3 – See how many marshmallows you can fit in your mouth at one time.
4 – Pick up a Sports Illustrated and draw devil horns on players of other teams.
5 – Stand in front of the ballpark and then ask people for directions to the ballpark.
6 – Call Larry Bowa and ask him to cuss you out. That always makes me giggle so it is worth a try.
7 – Dance naked in my front yard…call me for directions. Remember, I am always here for you guys ;o)
8 – Skip numbers 1-6 and go straight to #7. I promise, you will feel better.
There you go; a recipe for success. Now go win some freaking games already! Thank you.
Head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography