Phillies (7-8) at San Diego Padres (4-12)4:05 p.m. on PHL17
It only counts for one loss in the standings, but everything looks worse when youre not hitting. The Phillies fell, 5-1, to the Padres on Saturday and if not for a two-out, ninth inning RBI double by Ty Wigginton, would have been shut out for the third time already this season.
The Phils went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners. In 15 games, they have stranded 102 baserunners, or 6.8 per game.
As it stands, the Phils are 7-8 and with a win Sunday would improve their series record to 2-3.
Blanton wasnt sharp in San Francisco, where he only allowed two runs over five innings but gave up 11 hits. His average fastball velocity dropped from 90 miles per hour to 88, and where he hit 92 on the radar gun two starts ago against the Marlins, Blanton could only get up to 90 against the Giants. Its an area of concern and one to watch Sunday at PETCO Park.
Blanton is opposed by 24-year-old righthander Anthony Bass, who is 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA in four games, two of which were starts. Bass, a fifth-round pick of the Padres in 2008, had success at every minor league level but struggled with control after reaching the majors last season. In 48 innings, he struck out 24 and walked 21. In two starts this season Bass has five walks in 9 13 innings and has an exact 60-40 split as far as strikes and balls.
Bass uses a fastball, slider, cutter and changeup. The fastball averages 93 miles per hour and he uses each of the three secondary pitches roughly 15 percent of the time.
The Phillies took the first two games in San Diego before falling on Saturday night. Padres lefty Cory Luebke had the best start of his career, holding the Phillies to two hits over eight shutout innings.
Scoring has been a major struggle for the Phillies through 15 games and when they dont score first, they dont win. The Phils are 3-6 in such games and lost another one Saturday as Roy Halladay wasnt his typical self. For the first time in his career, Halladay walked three consecutive batters and for only the second time in 69 starts as a Phillie he walked four in a game.
The Phillies are 23-8 against the Padres since 2008 and had won 13 in a row at PETCO Park before losing Saturday. The Phils are still 15-1 there since 08 and have won 11 of 13 overall games in the series.
Blanton has faced San Diego four times since coming to the Phils, going 2-0 with a 3.96 ERA in 25 innings. In three of those starts Blanton pitched well (20 innings, 20 hits, six runs) and in one he was shelled for 11 hits and five runs over five innings.
Active Padres are batting .223 (23-103) off Blanton with five walks and 22 strikeouts. Only catcher Nick Hundley has homered.
Bass pitched just 23 of an inning against the Phillies last season, and Domonic Brown currently at Triple A Lehigh Valley doubled and scored off him. Ty Wigginton faced him five times as a Rockie, going 0 for 3 with two walks.
Wigginton drove in the Phils only run Saturday and has used a 5-for-14 stretch to boost his batting line to .281.351.438, a place he and the Phillies would really like to see it at when the season ends.
All other Phillies. Were understanding first-hand the complete package of Hunter Pence he can hit for average, has 25-home run power, but is very undisciplined at the plate and cannot lay off the high fastball, especially with two strikes. He is 0 for 9 with five strikeouts the last two games.
Jimmy Rollins is equally cold. He had a quality at-bat to lead off the ninth inning Saturday, walking down five runs and eventually scoring when he could have gone up looking to hack. But Rollins is 0 for 15 since last Tuesday and his batting average has dropped from .311 to .237.
Lee was placed on the disabled list prior to Saturdays game with an oblique strain suffered in the 10th inning of his masterful outing on Wednesday. He is expected to miss two or three starts and will be replaced in the rotation Monday by Kyle Kendrick.
Carlos Ruiz is back in action Sunday after missing games Friday and Saturday with a sore left wrist.
When the Phillies lose as they did Saturday night, frustration mounts not from the single loss but from the indication that this is what the 2012 offense is. The Phillies dont walk and they dont take pitches. They have swung at more pitches out of the strike zone (34 percent) than any team in baseball, according to Fangraphs.
Perhaps Jim Thomes plate patience will rub off on his teammates Sunday against the wild Bass. Thome gets the start at first base and bats fifth.
This series is waiting to be taken by the Phils, and a split would feel like a failure after winning the first two games against a team theyve spent the last five seasons dominating.
If you managed the Phils, what lineup would you use most?
E-mail Corey Seidman at firstname.lastname@example.org