It tumbles, it’s erratic, it’s unpredictable. It’s hard to hit, and the Phillies are making it a well-known fact. Facing a knuckleball pitcher for the second straight game, the Phils were unable to cross the plate as R.A. Dickey shut them down in the Mets 8-0 win.
Jamie Moyer was not sharp in his five innings of work as he allowed four earned runs by way of seven hits and two walks – he did not strike out a batter. Prior to this latest outing, Moyer had pitched six innings or more in every start this season. Normally efficient, tonight was not his night. He threw just 59 strikes in 104 pitches, although Tim McCleland’s strike zone did seem slighty thin.
The Mets never really rocked Moyer, they just slowly gouged him throughout the evening. Single runs were scored by New York in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th innings off of the Phillies starter. They added another single run in the 6th when David Herndon entered. In the 8th, three insurance runs were added as the Mets slammed ex-teammate Nelson Figueroa. Jose Reyes was a beast on the basepaths, swiping two bags and adding a triple to his stat line. On the other side, the Phils offense was yet again silent against a knuckleballer.
The bases are beginning to resemble small islands where the Phils have become stranded. They need a life preserver, ASAP. R.A. Dickey, one of the few pitchers around who still throws a knuckleball, stifled the Phillies bats through seven innings. Dickey would allow seven hits and three walks, with just one of the hits being of the extra-base variety. Even a line drive to the arm off the bat of Ryan Howard couldn’t stop the knuckler from tumbling. Raul Valdes made the lefties in the lineup look ridiculous as he came on for a three inning save.
All told, the Phils left 13 runners on the sacks. Add that to the seven runners left behind against Tim Wakefield and the Red Sox, and it has to be a frustrating time in the clubhouse.
Those struggling include Carlos Ruiz (one for his last 17) and Shane Victorino (three for his last 24). Scoring runs has become a chore as the team has managed to cross the plate four times in the last 36 innings. With runners in scoring position the Phillies are three for their last 21 (1-for-9 tonight, although the runner didn’t score). You can’t win games when you can’t knock runners in. Fairly simple.
There is reason to believe this offense can, and will, turn it around soon enough. Over 162 games, swoons are inevitable. That still doesn’t make it any easier to watch as the team-wide struggles mount.