For the second game in a row, the Phillies were befuddled by an opposing knuckleballer as R.A. Dickey became the latest to stymie the listless bats of the defending division champs. The Phillies fell 8-0 in ugly form.
Beerleaguer: The game felt very much like the first time these teams met. The Phillies were carrying some baggage into that one, too, while the Mets were riding a hot streak and had stolen away first place. Here, the Mets are coming off a series win against the Yanks. From the Phillies' point of view, their skid was considered an anomaly. But after the Phillies fell 9-1 in the opener, there was a sense that something was definitely wrong, and that something had to give. They eventually broke through for a 10-0 hammering the next day and would go on to win 12 of their next 15 games, basically staying hot until this recent 3-4 homestand.
One would hope the Phillies have the fortitude to turn it around just as quickly. However, if you're an opposing pitcher, these last few games have been like a treasure map on how to gameplan the Phillies. They want fastballs. They want big innings. They do not want to trade power for the slow bleed of small ball, which is precisely what happened to them last night. Take these elements away, and these lions can be tamed.
It's hard to pick on one player, but damn if this skid doesn't coincide with Carlos Ruiz's sprained knee and ensuing slump. Chooch looks like a guy who should have gone on the 15-day DL. Coming into the game, he had just one hit in his last 20 plate appearances since the sprain. So the Phillies are dealing with something of a black hole at the bottom of their lineup. Juan Castro can't be counted on to produce, and ahead of Chooch, they've got a left fielder in Raul Ibanez with three whole homers this season.
The Phillies are a good team, but these pressure points are becoming exposed: Castro, Ibanez, parts of their bullpen, like David Herndon and Nelson Figueroa, are passable solutions, but for how long?Of course, the big problem last night was their back-breaking non-execution with runners in scoring position. They left the bases loaded twice against Dickey, including a killer 1-2-3 double play in the second off the bat of Chooch. Then in the seventh, they had runners on second and third with no outs and Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth went down in order. Ugly night for Chase, who was 0-for-5 with 2 Ks.