Just when you believed the Phillies were bound to turn the corner, the Baseball Gods opened up the heavens and showed them the way to another loss. Doomed from the beginning, Cole Hamels start was short and not so sweet thanks to the weather, allowing the Braves to take game two of the set, 7-3.
The rain came and quickly washed away any hope of a victory nearly instantly. In the opening frame, the Braves put two runners on base with one out against Hamels. The skies opened up in the midst of those first three hitters, becoming a full-on monsoon as Troy Glaus stepped to the plate. A rain delay was warranted well before the Braves cleanup hitter approached, but was not granted until it was too late. Glaus, who is on an absolute tear lately, went yard through a heavy downpour to give Atlanta an early 3-0 lead.
Following a Brian McCann strikeout, Yunel Escobar’s at-bat was cut short as umpire Jeff Kellogg finally took the players off the field due to unplayable conditions. Cole Hamels night was over before it started. As the tarp was opened on the field behind him, Hamels walked into the dugout in disgust, realizing that his night was cut short by an umpiring crew that should not have started the game in the first place.
A one hour, four minute delay would put the official stamp on that. Hamels would throw 24 pitches through 2/3 of an inning – basically, a wasted start. He would receive a loss in the end, however, he never had the opportunity to pitch himself back into a win. The bullpen couldn’t keep it close enough as Chad Durbin, Antonio Bastardo, David Herndon, JC Romero, Danys Baez, and Jose Contreras put together 7 1/3 innings off the cuff, allowing four runs on six hits. Six relievers now means a thin ‘pen for tomorrow’s afternoon finale.
On the other hand, the offense once again did little to help the situation. It wasn’t until the 6th inning when the Phils finally broke through. Ryan Howard snapped a 68-inning homerless drought with a two-run blast two right field off of Tim Hudson, momentarily giving the faithful something to feel good about. Hudson, who did come back out following the hour-plus stoppage, pitched six innings, allowing just those two runs on the Howard homer.
A ninth-inning rally was extinguished by Billy Wagner who entered with two outs and the bases loaded. With a run in, Wagner coaxed Howard into a ground out on the third pitch of the at-bat, sending a spiraling Phillies team to their third consecutive loss and the 8th in their last 10 games.
Once a strong suit, the Phillies defense has been reprehensible as of late, as well. For the season, the club has committed 34 errors which puts them in the bottom half of the National League. Zoom in on the last 14 games and you’ll find they’ve committed 14 of those in that time frame. Tonight, Jayson Werth and Juan Castro were responsible for miscues which led to more runs on the board for Atlanta.
Scoring runs and playing defense has now become a chore for this Phillies team.
When it rains, it pours.