Blanked for the fifth time in eight games, the power outage continued in a 1-0 loss to the Marlins Sunday. The Phillies have scored just 12 runs in their last 19 games. They'll look to flip the switch when they open an important series in Atlanta.
What are the Phillies if they aren't yanking extra-base hits? This. As much as Charlie Manuel touts his club as a collection of multi-faceted .285 hitters capable of producing in utilitarian ways, that just isn't the case. Their homerless drought is the longest since Manuel's first year at the helm in 2005, the year the infamous David Bell / Mike Lieberthal black hole choked the life out of the bottom of the lineup. Today, those parasitic properties have spread deep into the lineup's core. Jayson Werth, who donned the sombrero with a four-strikeout stinker in yesterday's contest, is now 0-for-his-last-19 with 11 strikeouts. Ryan Howard, despite a .301 average this month, has just five extra-base hits since May 1, which doesn't cut the mustard for a clean-up hitter. Chase Utley has really struggled since the middle of the month, hitting .163/.280/.279 since their last, real offensive outburst: a 10-6 drubbing on Milwaukee on May 15: the day the scoring died.
There have been other factors as well. Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz are beaten up and it shows. Meanwhile, they've received marginal seasons from Shane Victorio and Raul Ibanez, production that's neither hurt nor helped. Juan Castro and Wilson Valdez have done well filling in, but they aren't run producers. The rest of the bench has been atrocious.
Today, Joe Blanton (1-3, 5.63) and Tommy Hanson (4-3, 4.06) take the mound in a battle of division leaders. The Braves, who were cellar dwelling the last time these teams met, have won five straight and 10 of their last 12 to move to a half-game back of the Phillies in the National League East. All of a sudden, the Phillies are faced a very important series as the schedule moves into June. Time to pick themselves off the mat.