Phillies 2015 – Week Four
Your Philadelphia Phillies closed out April with four games in St. Louis, having established a frustrating pattern of encouraging wins followed closely by dispiriting losses. Their most laudable efforts, notable highlights and flashes of promise have been obscured by defensive lapses, ineffective starting pitching, potential rallies unrealized and the confirmation of each and every one of our pre-season concerns.
After his first three starts were washed away in a flood of gopher balls, scant run support and inconsistent control, what Cole Hamels needed was a solid performance, buttressed by some timely offense.
The resulting 4-1 victory was as close as we’ve seen to what most Phillies fans envisioned a Cole Hamels’ start would look like when the season started – 7IP, 1ER, 9K, 4BB. When Ben Revere’s seventh inning lob wedge caught the chalk before bounding into the stands along the leftfield line, Carlos Ruiz and Freddy Galvis scored and the visiting Phillies took a lead they would not relinquish. Closer Jonathan Papelbon’s fifth save of the season secured Hamels’ first win.
Righthander Severino Gonzalez teamed with Ruiz to become the first ‘all Panamanian’ battery to ever start an MLB game. Having made history, Gonzalez soon was history as the potent St. Louis Cardinals offense welcomed him with an onslaught that resulted in seven runs scored in less than three innings pitched.
If brevity is, as they say, the soul of wit, this outing was pretty damn witty. In fact this was the shortest big league debut for a Phillies starter since the immortal Rafael Quirico got lit up by the Cincinnati Reds in June of 1996. (For future reference, my editor frowns upon foul language. So, I have decided to channel my frustrations away from such offensive phrasing. Instead, when I am tempted to swear, I will reference some painful and/or ridiculously obscure moment in Phillies history) Cardinals 11, Phillies 5.
Aaron Harang closed out his spectacular first month as a Phillie with his most unspectacular outing to date. A Ryan Howard homer and an RBI single by Odubel Herrera staked Harang to a 2-1 lead before the Cards exploded for four runs in the bottom of the fifth. St. Louis starter Carlos Martinez and three Cardinal relievers made those runs stand up. Cardinals 5, Phillies 2.
In the series finale, Phillies starter David Buchanan was looking to end a string of winless outings that dated back to last season. Instead, he found himself chased with one out in the fifth on the hook for seven earned runs and his fifth loss of the season. He and his 8.76 ERA have since been reassigned to the Triple A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
A punchless Phillies lineup managed only one hit off the St. Louis bullpen over the last 6-2/3 innings as the Cards wrapped up the series with a 9-3 win.
April ended with the Phillies sitting at 8-15, already seven games behind the front-running New York Mets. So, if any Phillies fans awoke Friday morning shouting ‘May Day!! May Day!! May Day!!’, there may be more to it than a note on their calendar.
May began with a weekend in Miami, facing a Marlins team that had been on fire since their visit to Citizens Bank Park last week.
Phillies’ second baseman Chase Utley snapped suddenly from his springtime somnambulance with a three-run homerun in the fourth inning that put starter Jerome Williams ahead 3-1. By the top of the sixth, a 3-3 tie was turned over to both bullpens. The Philly bats appeared to have been stunned into silence by Utley’s blast and only three hitters reached base over the last 5 innings. Relievers Jeanmar Gomez, Luis Garcia and Ken Giles combined to keep the Marlins lineup quiet in the sixth, seventh and eighth. But, when Giles was asked to begin the ninth, he allowed his first earned run of the season and was saddled with his first loss. Marlins 4, Phillies 3.
Cole Hamels was unable to carry over any momentum from his win on Monday as he pitched through trouble in each of the first four innings and allowed six earned runs in six innings pitched. Meanwhile, marlins’ starter Dan Haren stymied the Phils at every turn and, for the third time this season, Philadelphia failed to score. Son of a … Danny Tartabull ($2mil … 0-7, 4BB, 2R, 3GP) Marlins 7, Phillies 0.
Having dropped five in a row, Manager Ryne Sandberg tapped Severino Gonzalez again, offering the rookie an opportunity to atone for his debut earlier in the week. He was far from perfect … but, much better. He earned his first major league win as Ryan Howard’s sixth inning triple ignited the offense and the bullpen, especially righty Justin DeFratus who fanned the heart of the Marlins’ lineup on just ten pitches in the bottom of the sixth, closed out a much needed 6-2 victory. Ben Revere celebrated his birthday with three hits, a run scored and an RBI.
As the Phils continue to lose two games for every one they win, we continue to look for bright spots and silver linings. Just think, we haven’t had to hear Chris Wheeler say ‘sinker-slider guy’, ‘middle-in’ or ‘first to third’ in almost two years. Although, Tom McCarthy continues to remind us of just how good we had it with Harry and Whitey for all those years.
Looking ahead –
Three in Atlanta, an off day, then three at home with the first place Mets. Some would argue that this affords them the opportunity to make up some ground. Others might point out that a bad week could bury them and leave them 10 or more games out of first place by Mother’s Day.
I will simply say … Travis Lee … a big steaming pile of Travis Lee.
Rule 5 Rookie Named Odubel of the Week –
Herrera hit safely in all 7 games this week, averaging .385 scoring a couple runs and knocking in six more. He has shown amazing gap coverage in the field as he continues to learn his new position. How long until barbershops around the Delaware Valley start offering ‘The Odubel’?
Future ex-Future Prospect of the Week –
Once the only ‘untradeable’ prospect in a Phillies’ farm system that traded 20+ prospects in a 4 year span, Domonic Brown became eligible on Tuesday to come off the Disabled List. Apparently, the organization didn’t think he was capable of adding anything to the major league club at this time. Because he was told to stay in Lehigh Valley. When you are told that your offensive skills will not help a team that is averaging less than three runs a game and hitting a lusty.221, that might be a signal to update your resume.