The slump isn't quite over… The Phils lost their third straight on Monday night—the first time they've lost three in a row so far this season. Cliff Lee looked human although not altogether terrible, giving up a career-high six walks on the way to a 3-1 Phils loss to the Cardinals. He pitched just 6.1 innings, giving up three runs against four Ks. So far on the season, Lee's at a 3.84 ERA.
And yet, the walks are the easy storyline because they're the only difference in the daily routine lately. The Phillies offense was again nearly impossible to find.
Jimmy Rollins had the only multi-hit night for the Phils, although Ryan Howard drew three home-cooked walks (incidentally, the only walks given up by Cardinals pitching on the night). Jake Westbrook limited them to four hits and a lone earned run, easily one of his better starts of the season. If you want the comfy line, rest on a tight strike zone called by Gerry Davis and the fact that the Phillies fielded a starting group that included Wilson Valdez, John Mayberry Jr, Ben Francisco, and Pete Orr.
The highlight of the night for me was Michael Stutes coming into a pressure-cooker situation in the bottom of the seventh. Nick Punto had singled himself on, then got sac'd over by Kyle Lohse. A bit of fun at the expense of a pair of pre-WFCs. After a Ryan Theriot walk, Jon Jay singled in Punto and moved The Riot up to second. Due up—with one out—was Albert Pujols. Matt Holliday was in the on-deck circle.
Clifton Phifer's night was done, and Stutes came in. Immediately, I was more interested than I'd been at any point in the game. Would this be an unraveling point or a proving ground?
Stutes got the best hitter in baseball to to ground into a double play, safely stranding a pair of runners with Holliday on his way back to get his glove and hat.
Unfortunately, this wasn't a winning relief appearance. The Phils failed to scratch out more than a hit against Eduardo Sanchez and Fernando Salas, earning every bit of their 3-1 loss. The Cards hadn't given up less than six runs in their previous three outings.
Not a great night for watching baseball. Not a bad night for being like, HEY… I didn't get my full weekend's worth of drinking in, I'ma hit the big beers and a scotch on a Monday. Fortunately there are a few games left in the season.