Saturday, June 4, 2011
Posted: 10:07 p.m. Updated: 11:54 p.m.
By Jim Salisbury
PITTSBURGH The Phillies can only hope that Roy Halladay pitches as well on Sunday afternoon as his clone did on Saturday night.
After going 2-12 with a 7.52 ERA in 17 starts for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, righthander Charlie Morton spent the off-season remaking his delivery in the image of Halladay. Morton adopted the same setup and footwork on the rubber as Halladay. He dropped his arm angle and added that little shoulder tuck that helps Halladay hide the ball from hitters.
The visual is amazing. Morton looks so much like Halladay on the mound that he could be Halladay.
The results are impressive, too. Morton is 6-2 with a 2.52 ERA in 11 starts, his latest win coming against the Phillies with Halladay (2.56 ERA in 12 starts) looking on from the visiting dugout.
The final score from PNC Park was 6-3. It was the Phillies fourth straight loss and it came with thousands of traveling Phillies fans in the seats. Some of them even booed.
Morton held the Phillies to six hits and two runs over seven innings. He walked just two and struck out five, including the last batter he faced, Placido Polanco, on a curveball that left the Phillies third baseman shaking his head the way some hitters shake their head after being victimized by Halladay.
He was very good, Jimmy Rollins said of Morton. I was laughing to myself thinking, That dude really looks like Roy on the mound.
Rollins left the game with bruised knee and wont play Sunday.
Morton is a terrific story, no doubt about it. You might be hearing more about him in a month as he could be up for all-star consideration. But right now, the only story that matters in the Phillies corner of the world is what is going on with this teams offense. The Phils have been prone to long offensive droughts for more than a year and they seem to be getting worse and happening with more frequency.
They have scored just six runs in their last four games. They have just three extra-base hits in their last three.
I give him credit, manager Charlie Manuel said. He was pretty good. At the same time, we had chances to put the heat on him we couldnt get a hit.
I see us swinging at a lot of bad balls, even when were ahead in the count, slow stuff, breaking balls.
We have to produce more offense than what weve been doing. Its a must. We have to do that if we plan on winning.
Were trying. If anything, we might be trying too hard because were chasing a lot of breaking balls.
The Phils opened the game with a double and a single against Morton, but scored just one run on a ground out. They had two men on base with one out in the second innng, but didnt score. In the fifth, they had runners on the corners with one out and Ryan Howard grounded into a double play. Howard is 0 for his last 10 and just 5 for 29 on the trip. Chase Utley has just two hits in his last 10 at-bats. He ended the game with a fly ball to leftfield against reliever Joel Hanrahan with the bases loaded.
Kyle Kendrick allowed six extra-base hits and four runs over five innings as he got the start in place of demoted fifth starter Vance Worley. Kendrick may find himself getting another start on Thursday as pitching coach Rich Dubee said Worley needs to spend more time in Triple A.
Vance is going to be down there a while, Dubee said. He needs to get regular reps and get straightened out.
The Phillies offense needs some straightening out, too. If it doesnt happen, the teams hold on first place in the National League East might vanish pretty quickly.