MINNEAPOLIS -- The Phillies’ tour of the upper Midwest is turning into a disaster.
They suffered another loss to a last-place club Tuesday night when they were beaten by the Minnesota Twins, 3-2, in an interleague game at Target Field (see Instant Replay).
The Twins broke a 2-2 tie against relievers Mike Adams and Antonio Bastardo in the bottom of the eighth inning for the win.
Some of the ugly facts:
The Phils have been held to two of fewer runs in 23 of 65 games.
They have lost four in a row to last-place clubs Milwaukee and Minnesota.
The four losses have come after the Phils briefly poked their head above .500. They are now 31-34 and are eight games back of division-leading Atlanta in the NL East.
“It’s not good,” said Cole Hamels, who once again received little run support on a night he allowed just two runs over six innings. “It’s really not great. When you think you’ve finally got momentum and then you get the results we’ve been having, it’s not good.
“If [losses] add up, it’s not going to put us in a good situation. Losing four in a row makes it add up real fast, especially when we just got over .500. Now we have to start back over again.”
The Phillies are 2-12 in Hamels’ 14 starts. That’s mind-blowing considering Hamels entered this season on everybody’s short list of Cy Young candidates.
Hamels had a little hiccup in this game. He appeared a little unnerved by home-plate umpire Paul Emmel’s strike zone in fourth inning and got hit hard by four consecutive batters. Three of them doubled and one singled as the Twins took a 2-1 lead. Hamels did not give up a run the rest of the way but was out of the game earlier than he liked because the Twins fouled off a slew of pitches that pushed his count to 108.
Hamels would not admit to being frustrated with Emmel, even though he pointedly turned his back on the umpire at one point in the fourth inning.
“I have the utmost respect for umpires,” he said.
All right, on to where this game was lost. Obviously, the Phillies didn’t score enough against a pitcher -- P.J. Walters -- who entered the game with a .329 opponents’ batting average. Phillies hitters had typically poor plate discipline. Domonic Brown, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins all made outs with men on base by swinging at pitches out of the strike zone.
“Yeah,” manager Charlie Manuel said when asked about those at-bats. “But that’s who they are. Tomorrow night they might hit some pitches. That’s how our offense runs. That’s why you look there and see a .248 batting average. You can start right there. That’s inconsistency. We talk about it every night. Tomorrow night it might be there and the following night it won’t be. That’s kind of how it comes and goes.”
Howard did come up with a big hit for his club with two outs in the eighth when he benefited from the Twins’ decision not to employ a shift and slashed a single to right, through the hole between first and second. The hit scored Kevin Frandsen, who had led off with a pinch-hit single, with the tying run.
The game didn’t stay tied long.
Manuel went to Adams for the eighth. Adams had spent the previous four days nursing shoulder soreness caused by biceps tendinitis, but he felt good enough to go and Manuel said he felt confident in using the right-hander because “he was ready to pitch and I wanted to bring him in.”
Jamey Carroll, who entered the night hitting .202, was the first batter Adams faced. He walked on four pitches. Adams then allowed a single before getting two outs.
With runners on the corners, two outs and lefty-hitting Justin Morneau coming up, Manuel went to the lefty Bastardo. The count was 1-and-1 when Morneau fouled off two fastballs and two sliders. With the count 1-and-2, Bastardo threw a fastball down the middle -- he said he was trying to throw it to the outside part of the plate -- and Morneau drove it up the middle for the go-ahead run.
“We had two outs and Antonio just couldn’t get him,” Manuel said. “He had him 1-and-2 and it looked like he threw a fastball low down the middle of the plate or something. Antonio has to get Morneau. That’s why he’s there.”
Adams took the loss, his fourth. His ERA is 4.22. He has allowed 19 hits and 11 walks in 21 1/3 innings. The Phillies signed Adams to fix the eighth inning that was such a problem last year. He hasn’t.
“I’m disappointed I’m letting my teammates down,” Adams said. “I’m frustrated. It seems like it has been one at-bat, one hitter that’s been kicking my butt and I need to fix that.”
Adams had offseason surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome. Doctors removed the rib under his collarbone in the surgery. Earlier this season, Adams missed time with a bad back and recently was sidelined with the sore shoulder. He would not use health as an excuse for his performance Tuesday night.
“I’m good enough to go out there,” he said. “I’m just not pitching like I need to right now.”