MIAMI – The saddest words spoken in the Phillies’ little corner of the world Wednesday night were not these:
The Phillies have lost six games in a row.
The Phillies have lost 10 of their last 12 games.
The Phillies are a season-worst 12 games under .500.
The Phillies are a season-worst 10½ games off the pace in the NL East.
No. The saddest words spoken in the Phillies’ little corner of the world came in the clubhouse after this dead team lost, 5-0, to the Miami Marlins (see Instant Replay).
“I’ve dealt with that for a while,” said Cole Hamels, referring rather dismissively to a first inning that saw the Phillies come up empty after putting runners on second and third base with no outs.
I’ve dealt with that for a while.
In other words, Hamels was saying he had become numb to the lack of run support that has plagued him for a couple of seasons now.
Hamels’ words were a sad commentary on the state of this team’s offense.
And so is this:
The Phillies have been shut out 11 times in 84 games. Only San Diego has been shut out more.
“It’s a lot,” manager Ryne Sandberg said. “It’s hard to believe.”
Sandberg met for several minutes after the game with GM Ruben Amaro Jr. The manager said he would speak to his flopping team before Thursday night’s game.
What will be the message?
“I’ll come up with something,” he said.
Hamels did not pitch well. After going at least seven innings in his previous 10 starts and racking up a brilliant ERA of 1.88 in that span, the lefty struggled with his command and lasted just five innings in slipping to 2-5 on the season. He allowed five hits, walked four and hit a batter.
Hamels allowed a single and two walks in the first inning. He ended up pitching out of the bases-loaded jam, but the 34-pitch inning took a toll on him. Control issues hurt him in the fourth and fifth innings as the Marlins scored three times.
Sandberg believed that the first inning had an effect on Hamels -- the top of the first.
“He was missing off the plate and threw a lot of pitches,” Sandberg said. “He wasn't the sharpest he's been.
“Man, going all the way back to the first inning as far as setting the tone on the offensive side of things, second and third with no outs. I mean, who knows? Maybe there is an effect there on Cole's first inning. You never know. Make two outs and get two runs. Maybe it's a different tone.
“I think he'd like a couple of runs there. And we would as a team, too. With Cole taking the mound, that works hand in hand. ‘Cole's pitching, let's get some runs early and let him pitch.’ A pretty good combination, runs and him on the mound. But we didn't have the runs.
“I can see how it could affect him. Just having to be perfect and not having the runs to work with.”
Ah, but Hamels said it didn’t affect him.
I’ve dealt with that for a while.
Hamels blamed only himself for his poor outing.
“Any time you have a 30-pitch inning, especially to start off the game, it’s putting you in a real big bind,” he said. “I wasn’t locating. I was getting behind. I wasn’t executing in the right way. That’s the struggle I put myself in with not even being able to compete and go deep in the ballgame.”
The first inning wasn’t the only one in which the Phillies’ bats came up small. They had the first two runners on base in the sixth and got nothing.
For the game, the Phils had just five hits, all singles, and were hitless in six at-bats with a runner in scoring position.
“That's the frustrating part of it,” Sandberg said. “Having the right guys up at the right time. Once again, (Ben) Revere and (Jimmy) Rollins with two hits apiece. Neither of them score.”
Hamels recently admitted to being frustrated by all the recent losing, but he said Wednesday night that he was happy to be a Phillie. He was composed as he spoke with reporters after this game, but the former World Series MVP made it clear that he expected more when he decided to stay with the Phillies and sign a contract extension two years ago.
“Losing isn't fun,” he said. “We're all accustomed to winning, so when you're not doing so you want it and press instead of just going back to basics and playing simplified baseball. I'm probably a big culprit of it, trying to be too fine and not calm down. It puts you in a stressful situation and that isn't a good situation for your teammates or for you and your body.
“It definitely wears on you. I think a lot of us, it definitely wears on. You just have to try to battle through. It just hasn’t shown in the last year and a half. And you don’t know when it will show. Everyone just has to take care of business the best they know how and try to be accountable.”