Frustrating. Disappointing. Depressing. The adjectives to describe a Phillies game are no longer encouraging the way they were for two-plus seasons. After tonight’s 7-5 loss to the Braves those descriptors, coupled with the sweltering heat, made for a lousy time.
Atlanta showed why they are now the class of the NL East by grabbing two-of-three from the Phillies. They smacked around Jamie Moyer for just one inning, but that was more than enough.
Moyer had been a thorn in the side of the Atlanta Braves up until the first batter tonight’s game. Prior to Martin Prado’s leadoff bomb to left field, Moyer had gone two starts – or 15 innings – this season without giving up an earned run. At Citizens Bank Park over his last three outings, he’d been perfect, going 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA. At the worst possible time, Moyer imploded in the sixth inning, giving up six runs on six hits. A devilish sign? You betcha. Home runs by Martin Prado and Matt Diaz sandwiched a Brian McCann three-run double, which put the Braves on top 7-3. It was a lead they would not relinquish.
Five runs on 10 hits is by no means an offensive explosion. But for this Phillies squad, in this state, it’s as close to as good as it gets. Going through the order, there were positives. Ryan Howard continued his tear, collecting two hits, including a home run into the flowers in left field.
As much as people complain about Howard – and perhaps that’s warranted – he has now hit safely in 20 of his last 22 games. During that time, the first baseman is hitting .349 with seven homers and 21 RBI.
Jimmy Rollins chipped in two doubles and Greg Dobbs even put together a healthy 2-for-4 stat line.
For Moyer, it was a tale of two different pitchers. At one point, he retired 16 of 17 batters. Then the sixth rolled around and an ugly, nasty crooked number was stamped on the board. He hit the proverbial wall and hit it hard. Moyer had the lead before entering the frame but left having shot himself, and his team, in the foot.
It’s hard to blame any of the starting pitchers if they put together a bad night. For the most part, they’ve been solid. But this turned out to be yet another frustrating night for one or more parts of the Phillies team. After the loss, Moyer continually used the word “swagger” as a lacking ingredient. “We just haven’t found a way to get running on all cylinders,” said Moyer.
“We’re having a tough time right now, and we’re banged up, but at the same time, if you want to stay in it, you can’t be chasing two teams,” said Charlie Manuel. The skipper also talked about putting it all together, just as Moyer mentioned. That seems to be the crux of this crumbling team. When the offense has a decent day, the pitching fails. When pitching staff puts it together, the offense bombs, which has been the case more often than not. Rarely have the two units been on the same page.
They’d better get on the same page quickly because they continue to fade as they stare at the backsides of the Braves in the division standings. Six games now separate the two clubs. And what began as a huge series turned into a dud. Frustrating. Disappointing. Depressing. You betcha.