Runs? We don’t need no stinkin’ runs! The Phillies dropped their fourth in a row, falling a full 2 1/2 games back of Atlanta after a 2-1 loss to the Braves at Turner Field. The team’s offensive woes have taken a turn for the surreal—only 14 runs scored in their past 11 games.
This afternoon, they wasted a commodity even rarer than runs: a strong pitching performance by Kyle Kendrick, who struck out four and allowed only seven baserunners and one earned run in seven innings. Even so, Jose Contreras, by far the team’s best reliever, coughed up the game-winner in the eighth, allowing two walks and two hits (one of them an RBI single to Omar Infante of all people). Derek Lowe scattered six hits allowed one run in eight innings for the win, and Billy Wagner picked up the save.
Uncle Cholly shuffled his lineup today, with Jayson Werth leading off and playing center, and Ben Francisco manning right field and batting fifth. Werth went 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI, while Francisco drew a walk in four plate appearances.
The real turning point in the game was the eighth inning. With two outs and Greg Dobbs on third, Werth came to the plate with a chance to tag a tiring Lowe for the go-ahead run. But behind (arguably) the Phillies’ best hitter all season, Uncle Cholly had decided to hit Exxon Wilson Valdez, he of the .268 OBP and 15 strikeouts against one (ONE!) walk in 82 PA this season. Bobby Cox made the easiest managerial decision he’ll ever make, walking Werth and allowing Lowe to retire Valdez on a fly ball.
This team trotted out eight All-Stars on opening day, so I know they can hit, and they will soon enough. But I have to admit, as much as I know they’ll break out of their collective slump at some point, I’m starting to get creeped out. The most potent lineup in the National League for three years has suddenly turned into the 1988 Padres without warning. Let’s hope they snap out of it before the Braves get too far ahead.