Maybe the headline above is completely obvious. Maybe you’re not so worried about the Phillies pitching; that it’s the offense that needs a gem tonight. Just look at the Phillies starting pitching before you rip the lineup some more.
During this four game skid in which the Phils have plated a total of three players, the pitching staff hasn’t really been lights out either. Joe Blanton didn’t last through the sixth inning yesterday – he gave up six hits and four walks, a very un-Joe-like stat line. Jamie Moyer looked off in Tuesday’s 8-0 loss to the Mets; he couldn’t make it six. Sunday was supposed to be win-day for Roy Halladay, instead it was get-your-ass-kicked day as the Red Sox continued their overall domination of the ace righty. Daisuke Matsuzaka nearly no-hit the Phils on Saturday, however, Kyle Kendrick was lucky to have left the game allowing just five earned; it could have been much worse.
On the flip side, the offense is not hitting, plain and simple. Or should that be rephrased: they aren’t getting runners around the bases. Over the last three games, they have 24 hits and three (meaningless) runs to show for it. When it looks like they’re guessing, bad things occur. Jayson Werth has even shaved his grizzly beard in an attempt to kick start something (we think). Still, not one starting pitcher has given them an effort to rally behind. Four straight starts, four straight duds. And this, after a hot start to May with four of the five Phillies starters posting an ERA of 4.05 or lower.
Tonight, a masterpiece will need to be created by Cole Hamels. Not only for his own sake as he continues to build strong start after strong start in an attempt to recreate his 2008 form, but for his flailing offense which has been stymied by Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Dickey, and Takahashi. Not exactly shades of the ’89 Oakland A’s starting four.
This is where Hamels needs to excel. It’s not fair to put the burden on him when the offense isn’t scoring; there just isn’t an alternative. A starter needs to step up and keep them in a game.
On the flip side, Mike Pelfrey will engage the Phils lineup. The Fightin’s have had success against him this season, actually his worst start of the year, pounding him for six earned runs in a 10-0 Phillies win on May 1st.
The Phils started the month with a bang. Let’s see if they can end it that way. Cole Hamels – show them the way.