May 27, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies left fielder Domonic Brown (9) rounds second base after hitting a home run during the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Phils Shockingly Fail To Hit Lousy Red Sox Pitcher; Lose 9-3

May 27, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies left fielder Domonic Brown (9) reacts to striking out during the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Boston Red Sox won 9-3. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The narrative heading into last night’s 9-3 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park was that the Phillies caught some kind of break by missing Boston ace left-hander Clay Buchholz. Filling for Buchholz last night was a gentleman named Alfredo Aceves.

Aceves entered last night’s contest having pitched 18 2/3 innings so far in 2013, with an ERA of 8.20 and a WHIP of 2.036. He had struck out 15 batters and walked 12. He had given up 26 hits, 17 earned runs and six homers in those 18 2/3 innings.

Against a normal team, or more accurately, a “good” team, Aceves would have been, as they say in politics, “red meat to the base.” But people who thought the Phillies might take advantage of this stroke of good fortune simply haven’t been paying attention.

The Phils helped put the “ace” in Ace-ves, allowing the mediocre right-hander to pitch six innings of seven-hit, one-run ball, with four strikeouts and three walks.

Luckily for Boston fans, team management wasn’t fooled…

 

Yeah, that’s not good.

This offense is brutal. There is no other way to describe it. The Phils have two players, Michael Young and Ben Revere, who both have slugging percentages that are actually lower than their on-base percentages. They have a cleanup hitter who is on pace for 18 home runs this year and has the leg health of a 54-year-old arthritic. They have a right fielder, who is currently hitting fifth in the lineup, who is hitting .211 with an on-base percentage of .284 and a slugging percentage of .394.

Last night’s game only proved the point I made on Monday. There are NO GOOD HITTERS currently playing baseball games for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Chase Utley is the only player you could say is a “good” hitter. But he’s not playing and probably won’t be for a few weeks. In his wake is a team that cannot defend itself against highly hittable garbage pitchers like Acevedo. And this is not the first time the Phils have struggled against either mediocre pitching or pitchers with no track record of success. The list is long and distinguished.

That’s not a list of potential Cy Young Award winners there. And yet the Phillies have made them all look like aces.

Here’s the takeaway from Monday night’s disaster in Boston. Against the Philadelphia Phillies, EVERY pitcher is a potential ace. If you have a starter that needs a rest, and you need a scrub to come up from the minor leagues or a bullpen arm to make a spot start, look for the Phils on your schedule. You won’t miss a bit.

It no longer matters if the pitcher they are facing is a “good” pitcher or a “bad” pitcher. The Phillies offense will make virtually every pitcher look like the second coming of a young Doc Gooden.

The lineup is simply filled with too many #7 or #8 hitters. Only Dom Brown, who hit his team-leading 10th home run last night with the team already down 8-1, has shown any kind of life in this moribund lineup. Yet even Brown’s improved power at the plate has come at the expense of his ability to get on base (.281 on-base percentage this month) and draw walks (0 walks in May).

If a team’s scouting report of the Phillies consists of anything other than this…

“Throw fastballs, changeups, breaking pitches, anything off speed, high, low, inside, outside, hell down the middle of the plate, don’t worry about it. Just throw the ball anywhere near them. Really, you don’t have to worry. Just throw anything, anywhere. It’ll work. I promise.”

…then people are doing scouting wrong.

Just to tidy this all up, here are some more fun nuggets.

After an 0 for 5 night, Michael Young is now 7 for his last 58 for a .120 batting average, with two extra-base hits. Ryan Howard went 2 for 5, making him 12 for his last 57 for a .210 batting average with no homers and four doubles during that span. Delmon Young went 1 for 4, making him 6 for his last 34 for a .176 batting average, although he does have those all-important two home runs. And since hitting his game-winning homer off Aroldis Chapman last week, Freddy Galvis is 4 for his last 28 for a .142 batting average with no extra-base hits.

That is a cacophony of crap.

As for the pitching side of things, Tyler Cloyd finally reverted to form after two decent outings this year. Last night, the Sox pounded him for six earned runs on nine hits in just 2 1/3 innings, putting the game out of reach early.

The Phils, now 24-27, are 6 1/2 games behind Atlanta and 7 games out in the Wild Card. Their run differential is now -43, the second-worst mark in the National League.

It’s time to sell, boys.

Where It All Went Wrong

When Boston scored three times in the bottom of the first off Cloyd. A three-run deficit for the Phillies is like a 10-run hole for most teams. In fact, the largest deficit the Phillies have overcome this year is two runs. TWO RUNS.

Hero

Dom Brown who, despite a plummeting on-base percentage, is actually hitting the ball hard all over the place, clubbing his team-leading 10th home run of the season. He’s on pace to hit 31 homers this year, which would be a ridiculous total for him given the expectations. The smart money is that Brown will also learn to incorporate the impressive plate discipline he once showed with his new-found ability to hit for power early in the count.

Villain

Aceves, who suddenly transformed himself into Roger Clemens against the Phils last night, shutting down a lineup that would have trouble hitting a AA pitcher with an ERA over 12 making his Major League debut. Good times.

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