With bases loaded in the seventh, Carlos Ruiz grounded into an inning-ending double play, while Jamie Moyer, who'd been sharp, hit a wall in the bottom half when Emil Brown tagged a hanging change. Phils lost 5-2.
If you read Pat Burrell’s quotes in today's Inquirer, it sounds like they’re pressing. I’ve read that excuse often in relation to certain players and believe it’s probably happening now to every Phillie who picks up a baseball bat. It happened because they faced non-stop quality pitching for a week. As the 0-fers piled up, and the power outage continued, it crept into their heads. Now they’re pressing and taking poor at bats. Last night, they let Joe Blanton off the hook and took another bad loss. It was the easiest opponent they’ve faced in a week.
Last night, discussing the increasingly sore subject of Ruiz, I suggested that having a .604 OPS this late in the season, as Ruiz does, should put his starting status in jeopardy, even in a 50/50 split with Chris Coste. Then I looked at the rest of the league’s catchers. Surprisingly, Ruiz’s .604 OPS is not the worst among National League starters. Brad Ausmus and Michael Barrett are worse. Actually, when you factor in defense, the total package is only a little worse than the average NL catcher. Still, his bat has become unbearable, which is a shame because he excels at everything else. Last night, he stepped to the plate, the wrong hitter at the wrong time, and it cost them.
Geoff Jenkins also ranks poorly at his position offensively. With two on, no outs and Blanton coming undone, not only did Jenkins swing first pitch, he actually had a pitch to drive and skied one to the left side as he usually does. The veteran outfielder has made some shockingly poor choices this season, and he looks flat-out terrible most of the time.
Moyer, who had been hitting his spots, hit a brick wall in the seventh. Charlie Manuel judged wrong. Phillies starters have logged more innings than any other NL club, and it's time for Manuel to dial it back. Then, J.C. Romero made sure the A's lead stuck with a two-run homer to Jack Cust. The numbers are deceiving. Romero, who’s prone to wildness, has not been as sharp as he was last season.