Cole Hamels joins a the list of starting pitchers who've been torched for big early innings, as the Phillies lose another one before they even had a chance.
The Phillies have run out of saviors, and the offense must be fresh out of faith. Starting pitching has dug an insurmountable hole for them the last five games. It’s simply too much for any team to overcome.
Tampa Bay clubbed Hamels for seven hits and six runs, five earned, in 3 2-3 innings yesterday. Julio Lugo, who had five home runs entering the game, went yard twice.
Battling against the quick-working James Shields, the Phils were down 7-0 in the blink of an eye. The game ended 10-4 for the cellar-dwelling D-Rays. The Phillies fell below .500 for the first time since May 3.
None of the fixes have worked, not even by dumb luck. In fact, most of them, from starters, to spot starters to utility help, have backfired in their faces.
Last night marked Hamels' home debut, and there was no telling how he’d respond. Like a 22-year-old, over-anxious rookie with little experience, as it turned out.
"I tried to overpower guys, and you can't do that at this level," Hamels told the Inquirer. "I have to be more crafty."
Hamels had been considered a beacon of hope, and probably will be someday, but the 2006 Phillies are sinking deeper into an abyss. They send Double-A pitcher Scott Mathieson to the hill tonight in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle. After that, the cycle continues before Jon Lieber and Randy Wolf return. Wolf told mlb.com he's eyeing a mid-July return, but there's simply no telling how far back his team will be, or whether a struggling veteran or recovering pitcher can make a difference. Offensively and defensively, they are too flawed to make up the difference.
Right now, and perhaps this whole season, the Phillies are riding it out.
Words of wisdom
A final brilliant note, coming by way of e-mail this morning from a long-time reader, gives us something to consider.
"Whether right or wrong, the Phillies fans have felt for the past several seasons that the talent was there, but that it was mis-managed, the players themselves underachieved, or the GM failed to find the missing piece at the trade deadline. They would not be receptive to "starting over" from basically scratch when they felt they were this close and had talent that matched up with almost any other team. Gillick wants to disabuse them of that fantasy by letting the fans see what is really there: no pitching, over-priced talent, and many fundamentally flawed players. There will apparently be no bandaids and no makeup applied to make it look good. The fans will be ready, no, they will be demanding a complete overhaul by October."