In tonight’s 2-1 loss to the Padres, the Phillies found themselves in a situation that’s become all too familiar this season: They watched their starting pitcher throw a gem, only to have the offense fail to capitalize on the opportunity to win the ballgame.
DOC PULLS HIS WEIGHT, OFFENSE DOESN’T
– Roy Halladay did everything in his power to get the Phils the win tonight, but the bats once again weren’t there to back him up. He allowed just two runs over seven innings, and recorded a season-high ten strikeouts (his first double-digit strikeout performance of the season). He allowed runs in the third and the seventh, but was more than good enough to deserve a win.
– Say what you want about Halladay’s velocity/control/stamina/performance, the guy has still pitched like a bona fide ace this season. If you take away his one disastrous start in Atlanta, his ERA would stand at 1.76. The peripheral stats (BABIP, LOB%) that suggested Doc’s decline earlier this season have started to level out, and the guy just keeps getting it done. The Phillies may have lost his last five starts–a streak so rare, it’s the first time a team has lost five straight Halladay starts since 1999–but four of those losses are not on the pitcher, including tonight’s game.
PENCE’S NEW APPROACH
– As David Hale wrote earlier today, Hunter Pence has decided to take a new, less-anxious approach to hitting after slumping for the last week or so. Early on, it seemed like the new mindset was working, as Pence worked two walks in three plate appearances. But when Pence came up with the bases loaded, one out, and a chance to tie the game or give the Phillies the lead in the seventh, he reverted back to his old form, hacking away at the first pitch and popping out weakly to second base.
– These high pressure RBI situations are exactly where Pence needs to be more patient. With the bases loaded and a tight ball game, taking a few pitches increases the odds of working a walk or even of a ball getting by the catcher to allowing the tying run to come home. Pence is hitting .316 this year with RISP, but I’d be willing to bet that number would be even higher if he’d wait for a pitch to hit from time to time instead of hacking away.
– Pence did take some pitches in the final at-bat of the game. But he struck out on a fastball up and out of the zone to end the game. Swinging at the first pitch and chasing high heat are Pence’s two weaknesses, and both were on display in his final two at-bats.
VICTORINO WITH THREE HITS
– The 2012 campaign has not been pretty thus far for Shane Victorino. Coming off a year in which he was probably the Phillies best hitter from start to finish, Victorino has struggled to get on base regularly this season. Tonight was a bright spot, however, as he collected three hits and was on base four times. It marked just his second three-hit game of the season. To put that in perspective: Victorino had nine three-hit games last season (though, much like this season, he only had two through May 12th). When discussing why the Phillies offense has the potential to perform better than it has, Vic’s name comes up a lot as a guy who has underperformed. Tonight aside, the offense has been better in the month of May, and Victorino has had something to do with that. He’s now hitting .326 with six extra-base hits since May 1st. He would miss out on the opportunity for his first four-hit game of the season when he was intentionally walked in the seventh and when he struck out with Rollins on second in the ninth.
– It was unfortunate to see Vic strike out in the ninth because that could overshadow the rest of his game, but when you get a base four times, you can hardly be blamed for your team’s one-run output.
-The Phils will look for the series victory tomorrow when Cole Hamels returns from his suspension to take the mound against Jeff Suppan.
– The Phillies have won just one series at home this season, and that came back in the opening series against Miami. Beating a team like San Diego two out of three is imperative if the Phils want to gain ground in the standings.
– Mike Fontenot was added to the 25-man roster before tonight’s game and Erik Kratz was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In 15 games with Lehigh, Fontenot had a slash line of .300/.364./.400. He can play several infield positions and is expected to provide Manuel another bat to insert in the lineup. He is a career .263 hitter, and has been known for his patience at the plate–something the Phils could sorely use.