The Phillies showed poorly against the last-place Devil Rays, but don’t take it to heart. This was a tough series that hinged entirely on inexperienced pitching.
Before leaving work Friday, I completed a brief series preview for the Tampa Bay series, urging Phans not to expect too much against the cellar-dwelling D-Rays.
Preparing to copy and paste the Word Document into my blog window, I accidentally hit the "close file – no save" button in my bastardized version of Word. It’s the most evil button in the world, serving no purpose but to thwart me at 4 p.m. on a Friday.
Anyway, before Friday’s home debut of Cole Hamels, I issued concerns over the upcoming series. I didn’t like Saturday’s matchup with Scott Mathieson and Scott Kazmir for obvious reasons, and I wasn’t sure about Friday, either. There was no telling how Hamels would show in his first start at Citizens Bank Park. Too anxious, as it turned out. In addition, the team hadn’t been playing well, and the opposing pitcher, James Shields, had pitched consecutive shutouts. Of all the games, Sunday figured to be their best chance to win. Ryan Madson hasn’t pitched well, but at least he’d been there before, and his pattern seems to be one bad, one good. Seth McClung, now 2-10, is just awful.
Salvaging the final game yesterday, the series still wasn’t worth watching more than the U.S. Open, NASCAR or the World Cup. I attended Friday’s 10-4 loss to see Hamels’ debut and didn’t watch an inning the rest of the weekend.
Not much to see anyway. If Hamels gets lit up again, there will be doubts about his Major League readiness. The problem is, who replaces him? The Phillies are probably willing to shake off his home debut, and will try pairing him with Sal Fasano his next start. Chris Coste can work with Cory Lidle tomorrow night.
I like what I'm seeing out of Shane Victorino and David Dellucci, their seldom-used fourth and fifth outfielders. Dellucci went 3-for-4 spotting Pat Burrell in left yesterday, and Victorino got on base twice in place of Aaron Rowand. Outfield depth is one of the Phillies' only strengths.
No numbers to back this up, but the Phillies often succeed in day games when they start two or more bench players. They also started Abraham Nunez at third in place of David Bell. A home-away platoon isn’t a bad idea for the Bell, who seems to play especially tight at home.
The weekend saw interesting developments in the NL East. The Mets avoided getting swept at home by the Orioles yesterday. The Braves, losers of seven in a row, were swept at home by Boston to fall 14 back of New York and last place in the NL East. Washington took 2-of-3 from the scuffling Yankees. And how about those Florida Marlins, winners of nine-straight? The Fish fried Toronto for a three-game sweep. Their young starting rotation is just on fire.
Thanks to yesterday’s win, the Phils lost no ground to New York and actually picked up a game in the Wild Card. The Phils are three games back of the Reds with 93 games left to play.