The Saint Louis Cardinals came into a weekend series at Citizens Bank Park with the best record in the National League. The Phillies entered the series with the worst record in all of Major League Baseball. The result was a fairly predictable 12-4 Cards shelling of the hosts.
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The Phils started Phillippe Aumont on the mound, his first-ever start in the Majors. The 26-year old native of Canada had earned the opportunity by putting together a solid season with AAA Lehigh Valley, going 3-4 with a 2.35 ERA in 14 games. He had allowed just 49 hits in 65 innings.
However, there were some warning bells, despite the solid numbers. Aumont has had trouble with his command and control in previous opportunities with the big club. In 39.2 innings with the Phillies out of the bullpen over parts of the last 3 seasons, Aumont walked an unacceptable 27 batters.
That lack of control had continued down in the minors this season, despite his other numbers being solid. Aumont walked 41 batters in his 65 innings at AAA. Tonight those struggles continued. Aumont walked 7 batters, becoming the first Phils pitcher in a dozen years to walk that many in 4 innings or less.
In all tonight, Aumont allowed 6 earned runs on 5 hits and those 7 walks across 4 innings. The big righty threw 104 pitches, just 56 for strikes. He was relieved by Justin De Fratus, who was even worse. The reliever allowed 6 earned runs on 8 hits in just 2 innings.
The Cards jumped out with a 4-spot in the top of the 2nd inning. Jason Heyward led off with a double, and scored ahead of a 2-run homer by Yadier Molina. Then with two outs, Cards pitcher Tyler Lyons singled, and he scored ahead of a 2-run homer off the bat of Kolten Wong.
In the top of the 4th, a 2-run double by Jhonny Peralta made it 6-0, and that was the final frame for Aumont. The Cards then put up a 5-spot crooked number against De Fratus in the top of the 5th. It began with 5 of the first 6 batters reaching via singles, scoring two runs to make it an 8-0 game. A sac fly was followed by a 2-run double from Mark Reynolds, and their lead was up to 11-0.
Lyons was shutting the Phillies out into the bottom of the 5th when, with two outs and two strikes on him, Ryan Howard drove a 3-run homer deep into the right field stands. It was the 2nd consecutive night homering for The Big Piece, but the blast only cut the lead down to 11-3.
De Fratus stayed on to eat up another inning in the top of the 6th, yielding a solo homer to Randal Grichuk, who had three hits, making it a 12-3 Cards lead. The Phillies scratched out a final run in the bottom of the 8th, making the 12-4 final.
There was a little fun early on when a squirrel showed up, seemingly a regular occurence when the Cardinals are involved with the Phillies. The squirrel lept up on the mesh screen behind home plate, climbed to the top of the screen, tight-roped across the top, and made a massive leap onto the top of the Phillies dugout.
The squirrel then proceeded to leap directly into the dugout, nearly landing on Chase Utley‘s lap, and terrorized the players and Leslie Gudel, eluding a Philly police officer before disappearing behind the bench.
That and the Howard blast were brief moments of enjoyment for the home fans. Otherwise, it was about watching another loss. This was the 10th loss in the last 11 games, the 23rd in the last 29 games for the Phils. On Saturday night, the two teams will try to beat the arrival of the remnants of Torpical Storm Bill, scheduled to bring heavy rains to the Philly area.