CINCINNATI – The Phillies have had some bad road trips over the years, but this one has to earn a special demerit for just how dispiriting it was.
The Phils went life and death to scratch out two wins over the abysmal Miami Marlins in a three-game series in the Sunshine State then came to the banks of the Ohio River where their bats turned to drift wood as they suffered a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds.
Cincinnati took the series finale, 11-2, on Wednesday night (see Instant Replay).
The Reds won the series by a combined score of 16-4. Phillies hitters struck out 24 times in the series and did not draw a single walk. Not one. The last time the Phils went three games without drawing a walk? August 1995.
The insult that was Wednesday night’s loss in Cincinnati also featured some injury. Domonic Brown hurt his back diving for a ball in the first inning and eventually left the game. He will have an MRI in Philadelphia on Thursday. Starting pitcher John Lannan will also be checked by doctors on Thursday. After being mugged for eight hits and six runs and failing to make it out of the second inning, Lannan revealed that he was pitching with a sore left knee that prevented him from pushing off the rubber. He said he had had problems with the knee in the past -- tendinitis, he said -- and tweaked it running out a bunt in his last start.
Though he said he felt something pop in his back, Brown said he felt better after the game. In fact, he said he did not believe an MRI would even be necessary. If the MRI reveals a problem and Brown needs to miss time, the Phils could give Darin Ruf a look in left field. His bat is his strength and the Phils’ offense could use some help.
In six games on this trip, the Phils hit just .205 and scored only 10 runs. Three of those runs came on late-game, pinch-hit home runs. Two other runs came on a garbage-time home run by Freddy Galvis against a pitcher making his big-league debut Wednesday night. The Phils did not score a run before the sixth inning on the entire trip.
Number two hitter Jimmy Rollins went 1 for 18 on the trip.
Leadoff man Ben Revere finished the trip in an 0-for-14 skid as his batting average plummeted to .194 and his on-base percentage fell to.242. Revere has not hit the ball out of the infield in his last 10 at-bats.
“He’s having a hard time getting hits,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “I know where he’s at. Nobody wants to go 0 for 14. At the same time we’re going to keep playing him and see what he can do.
“A lot of guys had a tough trip. We’ve got guys who are good hitters. We’ve got to play better. Pitching, defense and hitting. It’s all got to come together at the same time. It seems like ever since the season started we’ve been out of whack.”
Fifteen games into the season, the Phils are 6-9. They are 6 1/2 games behind first-place Atlanta.
Lannan said his knee felt fine between starts, but acted up early in the first inning. He lost his ability to push off the rubber, could not get the ball down, and was tattooed by the Reds’ potent lineup. Lannan faced 14 Reds and 10 reached base as Cincinnati rolled out to a 6-0 lead after two innings.
Reliever Raul Valdes was called up to restore order, but he, too, was battered as the Reds opened up an 11-0 lead.
The Phillies entered the seventh inning with just two hits. At the same point in the game, Reds starting pitcher Mike Leake had three hits.
On the mound, Leake, who had previously struggled in his career against the Phils, cruised. The big lead allowed him to confidently pound the strike zone and the Phillies’ hitters made a lot of U-turns back to the dugout, seven via strikeout against Leake.
“Our hitting coaches preach being aggressive and that’s what we were doing tonight,” Ryan Howard said. “No one was chasing out of the zone. For the most part we were making good passes. We either just hit them at somebody or just missed them.
“It was a tough, tough trip. I know it’s a cliché, but that’s baseball. When you’re going like we are now, it looks a lot worse than it is.”
This looked pretty bad.
And prospects for a turnaround Thursday night aren’t exactly promising as the Phils head home to face the St Louis Cardinals and Adam Wainwright. Wainwright is coming off a four-hit, no-walk, 12-strikeout shutout in his last start.