Phillies (16-20) at Diamondbacks (20-15)
9:40 p.m. – CSN
As well as the Phillies opened their west coast road trip, the negativity and concern regarding this team has resurfaced within the span of two days.
At least in the series finale in San Francisco the Phils made a spirited comeback, even if it fell short. Thursday in Arizona they again failed to hit a lefty, they again went cold against a pitcher they’ve never seen and they again left Cole Hamels on the hook for a loss after a pretty good outing.
Baserunning blunders, defensive miscues, a silent offense … it was all there on Thursday. Even if the bullpen didn’t allow any runs, they did a terrible job of locating and needed another tight-rope act from Jeremy Horst to prevent further damage.
The most mind-boggling part of the 2-1 loss, though, came in the ninth inning with Delmon Young. Young had a nice night at the plate, going 2 for 4 overall, but facing Heath Bell he swung at the first pitch and tapped a weak grounder to second base for the first out. It just didn’t make sense. Even if aggressiveness is Young’s game, this was Bell’s third straight night pitching and making him work was the logical approach. Instead, Young allowed him to settle in immediately. There’s a big difference between not getting that first out or having to work for it, or getting it on one pitch. Know the situation. Young’s first pitch sac fly in the ninth inning Wednesday was well-timed aggressiveness. This was not.
Right-hander Tyler Cloyd makes his season debut tonight in place of the injured Roy Halladay. Cloyd was 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in six starts at Triple A, but is coming off his most impressive outing of the season and the Phillies are trying to ride the hot hand. Cloyd, thanks to a reemerging cutter, struck out 10 and walked none over eight innings last Friday.
Cloyd made six starts for the Phils last season and went 2-2 with a 4.91 ERA. He missed over the middle of the too plate far too often, allowing eight home runs in 33 innings. Surprisingly, he racked up the strikeouts – 30 in 33 innings.
Cloyd attacks hitters with a mid-80s fastball, a mid-80s cutter, a mid-70s curve and a low-80s changeup.
Arizona’s struggling ace
Ian Kennedy enters with a 5.19 ERA over seven starts, based mostly off of control problems. Kennedy’s walked three or more batters in four of his last five starts, all Diamondbacks losses.
The other numbers are relatively stable. Lefties aren’t hitting him any better than usual and his home-road splits are even.
Kennedy has shut the Phillies down in three of four career starts, including a three-hit, 10-strikeout shutout in April 2011. Last season he faced them twice, failing to pitch into the fourth in his first start but rebounding to allow two runs over six innings the second time. All told, he’s 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA against the Phils.
No Phillie other than John Mayberry has really gotten to Kennedy. Mayberry is 3 for 5 with a double and a homer, but he’s also mired in one of his patented long slumps; he’s 7 for 47 over his last 17 games.
Ryan Howard is 0 for 9 with three strikeouts against Kennedy.
Leadoff woes continue
Speaking of long slumps, Jimmy Rollins is 5 for 35 since April 30. He’s scored three runs in 10 games.
Can you imagine what this team would look like with a legitimate on-base guy leading off -- a Denard Span-type? It would make all the difference.
Rollins will come around at some point – he has one of these funks every year – but right now his on-base percentage is .286. When you throw in Ben Revere’s inability to get on base leading off before Rollins reclaimed the role, you get a .268 OBP from the top spot in the lineup. That ranks 28th in baseball. Eight of the top 10 teams in leadoff OBP have winning records.
Lethargic vs. lefties
Among Phillies with at least 20 at-bats against left-handed pitchers, Ben Revere has the highest batting average at .261.
Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are 10 for 69 (.145). Mayberry, usually an above-average offensive performer against southpaws, is 6 for 27.
Luckily, the Phils won’t see another lefty starter on the trip; Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy pitch Saturday and Sunday. But Arizona has a pair of lefty relievers in Tony Sipp and Matt Reynolds that could make things difficult in the later inning this weekend.
Phillies (16-20) at Diamondbacks (20-15)