For the second time in their four game home-and-home series against the Red Sox, the Phillies didn’t have to face one of Boston’s best pitchers, this time noted Phillie-killer John Lester.
Instead, like in the first game of the series on Monday, the offense had an opportunity to get well against another scrub, a fill-in, a spot starter, this one named Franklin Morales.
And, like on Tuesday when the Phillies failed to take advantage of the craptastic Alfredo Aceves, the offense once again failed to seize a golden opportunity to get back to .500 with a pathetic performance against Morales, who entered the game with a career ERA of 4.36.
Last night, the Phils managed just four hits, two walks and two earned runs (both coming in the first on a two-run homer by Delmon Young) against Morales, and fell to Boston 9-2.
This team is freaking infuriating.
There would be no three home-run game for Domonic Brown last night to save them. And with Ryan Howard getting the night off against a left-hander, Michael Young on the bereavement list and Chase Utley injured, the Phils went with an infield of Freddy Galvis, Jimmy Rollins, Cesar Hernandez and Kevin Frandsen.
Hey, if you’re going to face a AAA pitcher, you might as put out a AAA lineup.
Phils starter Jonathan Pettibone put the Phillies in an early 4-0 hole, which is pretty significant when you consider the Phillies are 1-21 this year when the opposition has scored four or more runs (their lone win a 9-4 win over the Mets in late April).
Credit Pettibone for keeping the team in the game during his five innings of work, however. He danced through the rain drops all night, allowing 10 baserunners in those five innings, but not allowing anyone to cross the plate after the first. And it seemed like the Phils had a puncher’s chance after Young’s first inning bomb to center field made it 4-2.
Unfortunately, as Phils manager Charlie Manuel lamented after the game, the Phils couldn’t hit the very hittable stuff of Morales. He also noted how impatient Phillies hitters were as compared to the Sox offense, who made Pettibone work hard last night.
“They were very patient with Jonathan and they definitely made him pitch,” Manuel said. “They made him pitch and if you noticed, we swung at some bad balls, especially when we were ahead in the count. We didn’t use their wildness to our advantage tonight.”
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury noted Boston sent 46 hitters to the plate on Thursday night and 24 of them had at-bats that lasted four pitches or longer. The Phillies had just 15 plate appearances that lasted four pitches or longer out of 34 hitters.
Manuel was also a bit irked by the fact that leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury stole five bases against his pitchers last night, something no opponent had ever done against the Phillies.
“I know Ellsbury getting on and the way he was getting a walking lead, I know we definitely can stop that,” Manuel said. “I mean, we’ve got to stop it. All you’ve got to do is hold the ball or step off. You can do whichever one you want to do. I don’t care as long as we stop him. But you cannot not just look over there or just kind of glance and go back, set and throw.” – quote per the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb
The Phillies did have a chance to at least draw to within one run, if not tie the game, in the bottom of the fourth, when they loaded the bases with one out. But Erik Kratz hit into a predictable inning-ending double play. From that point on, the Phils got two hits.
TWO DAMN HITS. That is SO 2013 Phillies.
The soft, fleshy underbelly of the Phils bullpen then couldn’t do anything to stop the bleeding once Pettibone left the game. Jeremy Horst gave up two runs in two innings of work while Chad Durbin gave up three runs in the top of the ninth. Horst’s ERA now stands at 4.91, Durbin’s is an even 9.00.
It might be time for a change, there.
So, once again, a mediocre spot starter shut down a Phils offense that just can’t sustain any kind of success. Yes, they are dealing with injuries and yes they are dealing with some missing players. But against Franklin Morales, even a AAA lineup should be able to do more.
And, once again, the Phillies failed to reach .500 for the first time since April 14. However, they may finally crash through that cement ceiling in the next week and a half. Their next three opponents, the Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins and Minnesota Twins, have a combined record of 55-102 (.350 winning percentage).
If the Phillies don’t come out of that stretch at least a few games over .500, it’s fair to wonder if this team shouldn’t start selling immediately after it’s over.
Where It All Went Wrong
In the bottom of the 4th when the Phillies failed to score with the bases loaded. Trailing 4-2 at the time, drawing to within one or even tying the game would have likely meant different relievers entering the game or at least changed the momentum somewhat. After that scoring opportunity was blown, it was as if the Phils themselves knew there was no chance they were going to score again, other than on a Dom Brown 9-run homer.
Delmon Young, I guess? I don’t know. They all sucked last night.
Jacoby Ellsbury, who was a real pain in the butt last night with those five stolen bases. Guys, seriously, he’s a good base stealer, but a little attention paid to him would have been beneficial.
Let’s see Jeremy Horst fight Jacoby Ellsbury.Might liven things up.
— Justin Klugh (@TBOHblog) May 31, 2013
I like the cut of Cesar Hernandez’ jib right now.
— John Stolnis (@FelskeFiles) May 31, 2013
— Stupendous Man (@cachristy1) May 30, 2013