The Phillies have dropped three straight to turn a promising road trip into yet another disappointing week. At 16-21, they've matched their worst record of the season -- they were also five games under .500 at 9-14.
Cliff Lee takes the mound hoping to stop the skid and enable the Phils to actually make this a winning week. With Lee going Saturday and Kyle Kendrick taking on NL hits-leader Brandon McCarthy (6.75 ERA, 1.68 WHIP) Sunday, it is possible the Phils can regroup and finish this west coast trip 4-3.
But they'll need to eliminate all of the gaffes to do so. The Phillies aren't a good offensive team by any stretch of the imagination, so these baserunning blunders are costly. Chase Utley hesitated for several seconds but still tried to turn a double into a triple Friday and was thrown out at third. It came after Jimmy Rollins' first-pitch homer and before Ian Kennedy continued to labor, so it really could have made the difference between a win and a loss.
The day before, Delmon Young was thrown out at second and John Mayberry misread a slow liner and was forced out at second. The day before that, Jimmy Rollins was caught stealing third in the late innings of a one-run game.
If you want a perfect example of the Phillies' ineffective offensive philosophy, look no further than Friday's game. Kennedy threw meatballs in the first inning and struggled with control all night, but the Phils let him off the hook. They scored no runs after the first inning and swung at ball four three times -- Ryan Howard once, Domonic Brown twice. All three pitches were way high and out of the zone. Somehow, Kennedy got through seven innings. Half of the NL would have forced him out after four.
Oh well. Lee cruised his last time out in San Fran and hopefully good Cliff Lee is back. He takes on Trevor Cahill (2-3, 2.80), who has lost a lot of weight and appears to be back to his 2010 form (18-8, 2.97 ERA).
Cahill is fifth in the majors with a 56.3% groundball rate. He'll throw lots of heavy sinkers, with some cutters and changeups and the occasional curveball.