The Phillies had many, many chances. Chances to score one run. But they hit into double plays, hit into weak outs, struck out, just plain came up empty. The Phillies were shut out again, 2-0. They haven’t scored in 23 innings.
Before thrashing this team’s ineptitude, let’s first give a huge hand to Joe Blanton. Kentucky Joe threw a one-hitter in seven innings, walking two and striking out seven. All four of his pitches were working. He spotted his fastball. He induced easy outs and got a few called strikeouts. Simply put, he was as dominant as he could’ve been.
And it’s sad. His great effort was wasted. As was Chad Durbin’s (1.1 IP, 0 ER), JC Romero’s (1.1 IP, 0 ER) and — well, even though he loaded the bases in the 10th — Brad Lidge (0.2 IP, 0 ER). The pitching was not an issue at all. By the time Les Walrond took the mound for his second inning of work, you couldn’t fault the Phils’ pitching for giving up runs. I mean, two runs against isn’t that bad.
All of the blame goes to the offense. The middle of the order went 0-for-13. Yet again, Eric Bruntlett was a hole at the plate. When the Phils got hits and walks, they couldn’t get the runners home. Count the outcomes — Pat Burrell’s pop up to end a bases-loaded threat to possibly win it; Chase Utley leaving seven on base; of course, the play that ended the game, with Shane Victorino being doubled up after a great diving catch by Brandon Moss.
Okay, let’s not dig on Victorino. If any offensive player deserves lax treatment, it’s him.
Then there’s Charlie Manuel, who made some bonehead calls.
- He bunted Chris Coste with Jayson Werth on first and nobody out in the ninth. The bunt was a pop up out. Eric Bruntlett came up next and promptly grounded into an inning-ending double play. Why waste a good bat against left-handed pitching and give Bruntlett the RBI opportunity?
- Then Manuel chose not to substitute Dobbs for Bruntlett in the bottom of the eleventh against a righty. Bruntlett popped up to end the inning. If that wasn’t bad enough, Manuel then subbed Dobbs in during the top of the twelfth. Dobbs in for defense? And hitting fifth? His bat was lost, and he’d never see the batter’s box.
Another call that could’ve went another way: bunting Ryan Howard with Victorino on third with two outs in the first inning. With such a lethargic offense, why not shake it up? Why not have Howard lay one down with the infield playing the deep shift? Why not let Vic use his legs? Instead, Howard hit right into the shift. Inning over.
We can pick all day. When it’s all said and done, this offense is an enormous problem. Can they fix it?
Associated Press photo