Sunday, June 19, 2011
Posted: 6:31 p.m. Updated: 9:02 p.m.
By Jim Salisbury
SEATTLE The word is out in baseball. Actually, it has been for a while. If you want to beat the Phillies, you have to change speeds soften it up, as scouts like to say because this team loves the fastball.
Getting a couple well-timed bloop hits against the Phillies vaunted pitching staff doesnt hurt, either.
That was the recipe that the Seattle Mariners used in beating Cole Hamels and the Phillies on Sunday afternoon. Lefty Jason Vargas mixed a deep assortment of pitches and Justin Smoak and Adam Kennedy blooped a pair of RBI hits to left field as the Mariners hung a 2-0 defeat on the Phils, who ended up dropping two of three to the Mariners.
The Phillies beat Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, the 2010 American League Cy Young winner, on Saturday night but couldnt do anything against Vargas the next day. He held the Phils to just three singles while striking out six in recording his second shutout of the season.
Vargas spotted his fastball well, but mixed in 66 off-speed pitches, leaving Phillies hitters frustrated.
Youve got to give him credit, said Ryan Howard, who had two of the Phillies hits. He mixed it up well. He didnt even need to throw it for strikes. He mixed it up just enough to keep us out of our element.
He had a lot of poise about himself out there. He had a plan and executed it.
Phils manager Charlie Manuel didnt seem all that happy about flying all the way to the Pacific coast to lose two of three games. He was even less enthused about his hitters approach against Vargas.
How many runs we score? Manuel responded to a reporter when asked about the approach of the Phillies hitters.
How many hits we get? Manuel asked.
Then Im not very pleased with it.
Manuel went on to say, The hardest ball we hit was a foul ball by Chase Utley.
Hamels was the beneficiary of all this wonderful non-support. He certainly pitched well enough to win his 10th game of the season, but had no offensive backing. That has happened a lot to Hamels over the last couple of seasons.
I feel like I did my job, said Hamels, who scattered seven hits, walked none and struck out six over 6 13 innings. I have to take it in stride. Its not the World Series. If it was, people would want to scream, but I get to go out there again in five days. Ill take all the positives from today and go from there.
The Phillies offense had just two opportunities (they were hitless in both) with a runner in scoring position Sunday afternoon. This after going 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position on Saturday night. At least that was in a victory.
The Phils three hits Sunday came in the first, fourth and ninth innings, respectively. They left two runners in scoring position when Ben Francisco flied out to shallow left in the first and saw a potential rally go by the boards on a base-running gaffe by Carlos Ruiz in the fourth.
That was about it for Phillies threats.
The top three hitters in the Phillies orderm -- Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Utley -- were a combined 0 for 12. Slumping Placido Polanco got a day off.
The Mariners didnt exactly beat up Hamels for their runs. Ichiro Suzuki reached base on a bad-hop single in the sixth and scored on a bloop base hit to left by Smoak. Hamels gave up a leadoff triple on a high 0-2 fastball to Dustin Ackley in the seventh and that run scored on another bloop hit, this one by Kennedy.
Thats baseball, Hamels said. Theres a difference between being lucky and not being lucky.
I feel like I was making good pitches and battling all the way. Thats the one thing I take from today. Their pitcher was tough. When a pitcher throws a shutout like that you cant give up runs.
The Phillies move on to St. Louis for a three-game series beginning Tuesday. The Phils visited St. Louis for two games last month and scored a total of two runs in two losses. The Cardinals have won two in a row to move back into a first-place tie in the NL Central after losing seven straight. Albert Pujols status for the series is unclear after he sprained his left wrist Sunday.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSalisburyCSN.