Some readers called Monday's lineup the worst in recent memory. Tony LaRussa and the Cardinals didn't disagree, walking Ryan Howard three times and forcing the rest of the Phillies' lousy lineup to beat them.
Beerleaguer: Step back for a minute and see what the Phillies have resorted to on the last leg of this road trip. Wilson Valdez is your two-hole hitter. Raul Ibanez and his .223 is hitting third. John Mayberry Jr. is Howard's protection. There isn't a worse arrangement for a clean-up hitter in baseball. There can't be. The decision to bat Valdez second proved costly. He absolutely killed their momentum since Jimmy Rollins was able to work a pair of hits in the lead-off spot. Nevertheless, even if you disagree with Charlie Manuel's lineup structure, any alternative wouldn't be much better. Missing Placido Polanco hurts. Getting Shane Victorino back, even at less than 100 percent, would help, but until then, it's a loser's lineup, crippled by weak hitters galore. Pete Orr can't hit. Valdez can't hit. Ibanez went hitless again, this time against right-handed mediocrity Jake Westbrook. In Ibanez, I've completely lost patience. Even J-Roll isn't guiltless. His GIDP in the eighth essentially sealed it for the Cards.
Honestly, I couldn't care less that Cliff Lee, who labored through 6 1-3 innings, issued six walks to a stacked, righty-heavy Cardinals lineup. Lee was getting squeezed and was forced into nine three-ball counts. It's a small miracle the damage was limited to just the three runs. No, Lee hasn't pitched like a Cy Young candidate, or even an All-Star, or even the Phillies' No. 2, but you can't continue to ask your starters to pitch without any margin for error.
Through 40 games, the Phillies are 25-15, a testament to their pitching and occasional spurts of clutch hitting. Those opportunities have dwindled now that teams like the Cardinals take caution and no longer allow Howard to beat them.
It's going to take a healthy Chase Utley, perhaps batting fifth, to keep opponents honest.
Grilli to DL: Lehigh Valley veteran reliever Jason Grilli has been placed on the 7-day disabled list with a sore right lateral muscle. The move clears room for Vance Worley, who will likely start tonight for the Pigs in Scranton. Grilli has been Ryne Sandberg's best reliever, allowing just two earned runs in 18 innings with a 22/7 K/BB ratio. According to beat writer Jeff Schuler of the Morning Call, Sandberg has a tough decision on who to drop from the rotation to accommodate Worley. Brian Gordon, a reliever who stepped in for Worley when he was promoted to the Phils, was named International League Pitcher of the Week this week.