For the first 17 innings of this series against the Minnesota Twins, it appeared to be the start of a breakout. The Phillies had beaten Nick Blackburn easily in the opener on Friday, giving the Phillies their third win in a row. On Saturday, Kevin Slowey was rocked and lasted just 1 2/3 innings before the epic bullpen collapse in the ninth inning.
Before that unheard of ninth inning where the Phillies gave up five runs, a sweep was well within reach. With a victory on Saturday, and Roy Halladay pitching today against Carl Pavano, it wasn’t such a far fetched thought. That’s why they play the game.
Halladay and the Phils were beaten by Pavano and the Twins 4-1 on Father’s Day and the possibility of a sweep quickly became a series loss.
Doc was his normal strike-throwing self as he struck out eight and did not allow a free pass, but he was hit hard in every inning. Halladay allowed solo homers to Denard Span and Justin Morneau and RBI singles by Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel in the defeat as Minnesota rocked the Phils starter for 10 hits in his eight innings on the mound. His final line included just three earned runs, making this his third loss of the season when he’s gone at least eight innings and given up three earned or less. Bad luck? Could be. There is some room for the blame to be placed on a very unstable lineup.
That lineup today produced just four hits and the lone run was contributed by the now-powerful Wilson Valdez. It was the shortstop’s second home run in as many games. Kind of odd, considering it had been six years between the first home run of his career and yesterday’s homer. Certainly it’s nice to see Valdez hitting it out rather than hitting into double plays, however, he was today’s lone bright spot.
Pavano, who had been tagged by the Phillies more than once in his career, was lights out. He went the distance and threw 105 pitches, 76 for strikes. All day long he kept the Phils bats off-balance with a great fastball/sinker/changeup/slider mix.
When asked whether yesterday’s mind-blowing loss trickled into today’s lackluster performance, Shane Victorino said absolutely not. “Last night’s loss was a fluke, but again, you don’t carry that over into today, you forget about it.”
What did carry over was the offense’s inability to provide Halladay with any sort of cushion. In his last six starts, he’s thrown 43 2/3 innings, but has been given just nine total runs of support. That’s a scary thought. What’s also scary is that the Phillies are now 5.5 games behind the Braves who have jumped to 42-28.
If they want to catch them, they’ll need to start now.