You may have heard Domonic Brown did some things this weekend.
Many of the things he did against the Brewers were the same things that could make him the NL’s Player of the Month for May. In the three game series, Brown went 6 for 11 with 3 HRs, 8 RBIs, and two walks, while just narrowly missing the cycle on Sunday.
And then there was the incredible Cliff Lee, who went 7 2/3 innings on Sunday, and gave up three earned runs on 7 hits with 11 strikeouts. He had to leave the game early due to cramps, but remained on quite a roll, with a 1.54 ERA, 40 strikeouts and 6 walks in his last six starts. He is 5-0 during that stretch.
Those are your two Phillies All-Stars, ladies and gentlemen.
Still, a big Sunday by Lee and the continuation of Brown-a-palooza shouldn’t overshadow a very depressing series against Milwaukee this weekend. This weekend showed us something not very palatable, or surprising.
The Phillies just aren’t very good.
Losing two out of three to the Brewers in unacceptable. It’s really that simple. Yes, the Phils have had a rash of injuries and personal issues crop up over the last few days, but Milwaukee is among the worst teams in baseball. They came into the series on a six-game losing streak, at 19-33, dead last in the NL Central.
And they won two out of three in the Phils’ ballpark. Ugh.
How frustrating and awful was this series? Let us count the ways.
- The Phillies staked Cole Hamels to a 3-0 first inning lead on Friday. It was the first time Hamels had pitched with a lead since April 7 against Kansas City. In that game, Hamels blew a 4-0 lead first inning lead, so perhaps his giving up a three-run cushion on Friday could be considered progress.
- Hamels gave up a career-high 12 hits and 7 runs, 6 of which were earned, in five innings. Yes, he got blooped and dunked to death in one of those innings, but it should be noted his 4.86 ERA this year has not been inflated by bad luck. His BAbip of .296 is only slightly higher than last year’s mark of .290. He’s been flat-out bad at times and really unlucky at others. He’s a total mystery right now.
- For the second time this year, the Phillies had another pitcher being used as a pinch runner picked off in a crucial spot. Before, it was Lee who got picked off first, but he was bailed out on back-to-back game-winning homers by Erik Kratz and Freddy Galvis against the Reds. This time, on Saturday, Kyle Kendrick was picked off second base as the tying run in the bottom of the ninth (although replays show the second base umpire missed the call as the ball was dropped). Cesar Hernandez then hit a double, which would have scored the runner from second, tying the game. Instead, Michael Martinez grounded out with Hernandez on second.
- Also on Saturday, the offense managed only two earned runs off Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta, he of the 5.94 ERA. He’s just the latest in a long line of mediocre pitchers the Phils have been unable to hit.
- There were numerous defensive miscues this weekend, highlighted by Delmon Young‘s adventure in right field on Saturday, in which he misplayed a fly ball for a “triple” that he later blamed on a “spring in his glove.” Man, I love this guy.
- On Sunday, after staking Lee to a 7-0 lead, the Phils’ bullpen did their best to get the team swept by the Brewers. No longer tied down by the horrific Chad Durbin, Just DeFratus and Antonio Bastardo relieved Lee after he left with cramps throughout his body on a hot and humid afternoon. Lee, DeFratus and Bastardo teamed up to allow five runs in the last two innings, ultimately putting the tying and go-ahead runs on base in the ninth with one out. Fortunately, Bastardo got out of it, but even a 7-0, second inning lead wasn’t enough for the Phillies to win a game comfortably. On the other hand, it did improve the team’s record to 2-24 when allowing four or more runs in a game.
- Injuries have been piling up. Rollins missed Saturday’s game after fouling multiple balls off his foot (although he did return on Sunday and played very well this weekend). Howard is battling a bad knee. Michael Young missed all three games on the bereavement list. The team’s age really showed its wrinkles this weekend.
That’s a lot of really bad stuff happening against a really bad team right there.
Playoff teams do damage against these kinds of losers. Fans were hoping the Phils would get healthy and rack up some victories against some of the dregs of the league over the next couple weeks (Miami and Minnesota are next on the schedule, as well as a repeat against Milwaukee). But as has been seen in their struggles with the Marlins this year (outscored by Miami 31-30, although they’ve won 6 of 10), it’s clear the Phillies are not a team that can take anyone for granted.
The Phillies may be one of those “dregs” too, which will certainly factor into their decision to trade Lee or Jonathan Papelbon (who missed Sunday’s game due to what the Phillies were calling a “stomach virus”) and other potential pieces over the next few weeks. If the Phils can’t do some real damage against the Marlins, Twins, and Brewers (who the Phillies will play in Milwaukee this weekend), it should be obvious to everyone what needs to happen.
If the Phillies don’t at least go 7-3 over these next 10 games, they should sell anything and everything, provided value is received in return. Nothing and no one should be safe.
Dom Brown is the hottest hitter in baseball. Cliff Lee is pitching his brains out. Hopefully they’ll keep it up and give Phils management true pieces around whom to build the team. But more reinforcements are needed. And if the Phillies can’t do anything against the worst of the worst that baseball has to offer, that means THEY are among the worst of the worst too.
The next 10 days should decide everything.