Phils lost a close one last night behind Gavin Floyd’s less than spectacular outing. He coughed up three quick runs in the first, a homer in the second, and then was tagged for three more in the fourth. Besides Floyd’s inability to record outs, there were a few other let downs on defensive. Jimmy Rollins uncharacteristically threw a routine ball away in the fourth inning. In the eighth, Chase Utley committed an error as he dropped a humpback liner up the middle – though it was knuckling in the wind. Last season the Phillies had the highest fielding percentage in the league but this year they’re near the bottom. Defensive superiority was supposed to be a given with this team – especially the middle infield – but somehow they’ve managed to digress in the category.
One guy who played brilliantly on both sides of the ball (does that metaphor work for baseball?) was none other than Pete Incaviglia re-incarnate, Sal Fasano. He was 2-4 with 2 doubles, and 2 RBIs as both hits provided a much needed spark for the Phils and the fans. Behind the plate he had a chance to show off his laser-guided arm throwing and tough guy persona. Though in the 3rd he was robbed by third base umpire Brian Onora as he seemingly gunned down a Rockie attempting to steal third, he came back and made some nice defensive plays in the sixth and seventh. First, he fielded an excellent bunt halfway down the third base line and threw a perfect strike to Ryan Howard to get the runner by half a step, then he recovered an Aaron Fultz wild pitch in time to nail a runner trying to advance to third. The best and most telling move for the masked man though came in the first. As the Rockies second run – in the form of Clint Barmes – was streaking down the third base line and Fasano, who knew the relay throw was not going to make it in time, stood five feet up the line to block the plate. Well, it wasn’t exactly a block, it was more him like sticking his leg out in the sense of trying to trip a waiter carrying a full tray of food – very sneaky, though a bit dangerous. No one was hurt, but the Rockies scored and Fasano was promptly chastised by home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi for the move which surely only inflated his bad boy reputation and fan base. Speaking of which, Phillies Nation spent time up in the rafters with Sal’s Pals last night, so pictures and stories are forthcoming.
Offensively, the Phils produced decently with the new lineup in effect – again no home runs. It should be noted Bobby Abreu walked in his 12th consecutive game though Ryan Howard was 0-5 with 2 Ks and 5 LOB. One interested yet not-to-be-criticized move by Charlie Manuel was his decision to send Geoff Geary to the plate in the middle of the Phillies fourth inning rally. The bullpen has been overworked as of late as Rhodes and Franklin have pitched in consecutive games and Julio Santana was at home with a stomach flu; not to mention the fact that the Phillies bench this season was a dismal 3-30 with just one RBI coming into the game (now 4-32 with a Victorino hit and a Nunez popup bunt). But the winds were in Geary’s favor as he helped himself with an RBI double. Two batters later, Chase Utley put one in the jet stream, and then Abreu continued the rally to bring the Phils within one. But that was all the Fightins could muster as the Rockies bullpen showed why they’re one of the best in the NL.
Game two with the new lineup, and the Phillies offensive is certainly providing a more balanced attack as well as scoring baserunners (3 for 7 with RISP and 2 outs last night). But as we saw Monday, this only works when the starting pitching can provide a decent outing; even better if it can setup the 7-8-9 inning bullpen corps who has showed their lockdown effectiveness.
Finally the bigger picture, the 8-11 (4-9 at home) Phils dropped to 4.5 games back in the division as the Mets were the only NL East team to win last night.