In this life, three things are guaranteed: Death, taxes and the Phillies struggling against an inferior Astros team in September. Phillies fans were subjected to another expose on the latter tonight, as the Phils fell to the Astros 5-0–their second loss in three games against a glorified Triple-A team. Unlike Thursday’s agonizing loss, in which the team let a lead slip away late, this game had a more somber feel. The Phils lacked energy from the start, got down early and never really seemed to be in the game. They essentially could have ended the game after the first inning.
Cy Kendrick? Not Tonight
– Let’s face it, Kyle Kendrick wasn’t going to pitch like vintage Roy Halladay forever. Over his last six games before tonight, Kendrick posted a 1.49 ERA, but also posted a .204 BABIP. While he’s been very good, he’s also been very lucky. He was due for a letdown game. But boy did it come at the wrong time for the Phillies.
– The Astros jumped out in front early on a first inning home run by Justin Maxwell. The homer came on a changeup–which has been the pitch that has spurred Kendrick’s hot streak–that came in flat and over the inner half of the plate. It was an all around bad pitch, and looked to be a sign of things to come, as Kendrick also labored through the second inning (giving up another run). He pitched well through the third and fourth, but surrendered another run in the fifth before being lifted. He probably could’ve gone another inning, but with the Phillies down 4-0, and with little margin for error, Manuel opted to go to the ‘pen.
The Bats Resemble Times Of Old
– Before tonight, Astros starter Dallas Keuchel was 1-7 with a 5.35 ERA. In 70.1 IP, he struck out just 31 hitters while walking 33. He has been far from an effective pitcher this season. The Phils should’ve shelled him. Of course, that’s not how things went down.
– They were not without their chances against the lackluster left-hander, however. During his 5.1 innings of work, the Phillies had runners reach in every inning, the leadoff hitter on four times, and twice loaded the bases. During that span, they left 16 runners on base and scored a grand total of zero runs. They looked like the team we saw so often during the first five months of this season–taking a bad approach at the plate and routinely failing to come up with a clutch hit. The fact that Keuchel went only five plus innings, despite the fact that the Phils were unable to score against him, speaks volumes about how average he was on the mound. The Phillies simply let him off the hook.
– The offense wasn’t any better against the Astros bullpen, which had a collective 4.67 ERA, ranking 28th in baseball. It was a frustrating night from start to finish, and one this team is almost certain to regret. The entire night was a big wasted opportunity–a microcosm of the Phillies’ 2012 campaign. They left a grand total of 23–TWENTY-THREE!–runners on base.
– The Phillies really couldn’t afford to lose this game. The Pirates won, the Brewers are up big, and either the Dodgers or Cardinals will win another game tonight. With the loss, the Phils will lose ground on three of the teams in this wild card chase. When we look back upon this season, if the Phillies fail to make the playoffs, this series will definitely stand out in the minds of many. Sure, there have been plenty of opportunities blown throughout this season. But facing a very bad Houston team, and with St. Louis and L.A. going head to head, this set of games was a great opportunity to build on the momentum the Phils had over the last week and a half. It was not meant to be.