I’m supposed to be off until tomorrow, but I can’t resist writing about last night’s backbreaking prime time loss to Atlanta.
A series win against the Braves is just what the team needed to get it going. Instead, the nation got to see the Phils helpless offense and hapless bullpen, losing 4-3 in a game broadcast on ESPN.
The Braves won the series 2-1 as the Phils dropped to .500 on the season, 9.5 games in back of the never-lose Nationals, and four games back of the wild card-leading Braves.
The offense was inept once again, banging out a whole three hits against Jorge Sosa and company. All three of their runs came on one hit, a three-run homer by Ryan Howard in the fourth inning.
The Braves answered back with two runs in the seventh charged to Rheal Cormier, one in the eighth given up by Ugueth Urbina—who was booed mercilessly—and the game winner in the ninth off Billy Wagner. Ryan Langerhans tripled off Wagner to lead off the frame, scoring the eventual game winner on a sac fly by Wilson Betemit.
The bullpen blew the game for Robinson Tejeda, who shut down the Braves over six innings. He benefited from a lot of luck in the first two sets, getting inning-ending double plays to end scoring threats. After the rocky start en route to a five-walk night, he settled in, earning five strikeouts.
On the other side, I was impressed with right-hander Sosa, who’s inside breaking pitch was tough on Chase Utley and Kenny Lofton.
The offensive black hole of David Bell and Mike Lieberthal, hitting seventh and eighth, went 1-8, including another rally-killing out by Bell with runners in scoring position. Bell, Lieberthal, the pitcher’s spot and Jimmy Rollins is like cruise control for opposing pitchers.
From my vantage point, watching the game on crystal-clear high definition, only two players looked comfortable, Tejeda and Howard, both rookies.
Two changes that must happen right away: Jimmy Rollins and his .310 OBP must be vanquished from the leadoff spot. Kenny Lofton, Jason Michaels and Chase Utley represent better choices. I’d bat Rollins seventh to split up the right-right impotence of Bell and Lieberthal when facing right-handers.
This afternoon in Pittsburgh they face junkball left-hander Dave Williams, a native of Anchorage, Alaska. So in this situation, I’d leadoff with J-Mike and his much better .408 OBP.
For those that haven’t read, J-Mike was arrested Saturday night for punching a cop outside a nightclub. He was released yesterday morning.
In terms of pitching, Cormier must be dropped from tight situations, with left-hander Aaron Fultz seeing more action late in games. In his last two appearances, Cormier has allowed six earned runs, while Fultz has allowed only 11 all season.