In their seemingly never-ending quest to show the world that they ARE one of the truly bad teams in Major League Baseball, the Phillies did a terrific job once again last night, falling to the last place Minnesota Twins 3-2 at Target Field.
It was a typical 2013 Phillies performance. The offense failed to generate much of anything once again, scoring just two runs on seven hits (just one for extra bases) against Twins’ starter P.J. Walters. Cole Hamels pitched very well, aside from Minnesota’s two-run fourth in which he gave up three consecutive hard-hit doubles and a single. Hamels threw six innings and gave up just those two runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and no walks.
And after the Phillies tied the game in the eighth inning, thanks to a Ryan Howard RBI single, the Majors’ third-worst bullpen allowed the Twins to get that run right back, with the struggling Mike Adams and Antonio Bastardo giving up the go-ahead tally.
So far, during their 10-game odyssey against the Marlins, Brewers and Twins, the Phillies are 4-4.
Yes, it would be fair to say the Phillies are playing against their peers.
The Phils had their chances against Walters, who came into the game allowing opponents to hit .329 against him. As CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury noted, Domonic Brown, Howard and Jimmy Rollins all chased balls out of the strike zone with men on base, essentially killing multiple rallies. After the game, Charlie Manuel noted something that seems to be painfully obvious to everyone other than Ruben Amaro Jr.
“But that’s who they are. Tomorrow night they might hit some pitches. That’s how our offense runs. That’s why you look there and see a .248 batting average. You can start right there. That’s inconsistency. We talk about it every night. Tomorrow night it might be there and the following night it won’t be. That’s kind of how it comes and goes.”
Tell that to the St. Louis Cardinals or Boston Red Sox or any of the other teams that hire and develop competent hitters who are patient and try to hit the ball through the middle of the field. It doesn’t HAVE to be this way, fellas.
The ballad of 2013 Cole Hamels played itself out once again as well. Even though he pitched another solid game, the Phils fell to 2-12 in Hamels’ 14 starts. Hamels noted that the Phillies have essentially wasted that recent five-game winning streak that seemed to have given them a little momentum.
“It’s not good. It’s really not great. When you think you’ve finally got momentum and then you get the results we’ve been having, it’s not good. If [losses] add up, it’s not going to put us in a good situation. Losing four in a row makes it add up real fast, especially when we just got over .500. Now we have to start back over again.”
Of course, the main reason the Phillies failed to pocket a win against a bad baseball team is because their relievers once again failed to come through. Echoing back to the huge problem of the 2012 season, the eighth inning once again was their undoing.
Mike Adams was supposed to stabilize things when he signed as a free agent in the off-season. But Adams has battled a combination of ineffectiveness and injury, and still doesn’t appear to be right. He allowed the Twins to get a first and third with two outs before leaving for Bastardo, so that the lefty reliever could get out the left-handed hitting Justin Morneau.
Instead, Bastardo gave up an RBI single to Morneau, and that was the ballgame. Afterwards, Manuel put it succinctly.
“Antonio’s got to get out Morneau.”- quote per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki
And what about Adams, who since returning from the DL has a 7.11 ERA?
“I don’t know,” Adams said. “I’m going through a tough stretch right now. I’m working to get out of it. It’s been rough.”
Perhaps the scariest part is that the Phillies seem neither able to explain why they are struggling so much, or know exactly why they’re struggling but are unable to do anything about it.
But don’t worry everybody. Even though the Phils fell to 31-34, have a run differential of -42, are 8 games behind Atlanta in the NL East and are 7 1/2 out in the Wild Card, this team will NOT be blown up. We’re going to hold onto all these aging, injury-prone, declining players FOREVER.
So, allow that knowledge to comfort you as you watch this team stumble and fumble against their fellow dregs.
Where It All Went Wrong
When the Phillies had to turn to their bullpen in the 8th inning. The ‘pen, which was supposed to be much improved in 2013 with the addition of Adams and Chad Durbin, as well as some powerful young arms in the middle innings, has the third-worst ERA in the Majors (4.48). It’s one of the main reasons the Phillies have a 5-11 record in one-run games this year.
Hamels who despite one bad inning and a high pitch count, did his job. If you throw out Hamels’ first two starts this year, he has a 3.53 ERA. Not Cy Young caliber, but certainly better than a 2-7 record over that same span.
Adams and Bastardo, who did an excellent job regurgitating the run the Phils eked out in the top of the 8th to tie the ballgame.