Friday, June 3, 2011
Posted: 10:30 p.m.
By Jim Salisbury
PITTSBURGH So much for getting the old gang together again for the first time this season. It didnt really inspire the Phillies offense as Charlie Manuel had hoped.
In their last three games, the Phils have scored 2, 1 and 1 runs, respectively, in a pair of losses to lowly Washington and one to the Pirates.
Friday nights loss cemented when the Pirates struck for two two-out singles and a stolen base against Danys Baez came in front of several thousand traveling Phillies fans at PNC Park and it marked a low point for the offense. The Phils produced just six hits all singles. One of them was an infield hit and two others came off the bat of starting pitcher Cole Hamels. If youre keeping track, the Phils have scored just one run in their last 19 innings.
Before Friday nights game, Manuel expressed confidence that his club would score more runs because the Phils now have a full deck. Chase Utley is back in the lineup after missing most of the first two months with a knee injury. Friday night he was joined by Shane Victorino, who came off the disabled list after missing three weeks with a strained hamstring. It marked the first time all season that the Phils had their favored starting lineup on the field.
But it didnt matter.
You have games like this, said Ryan Howard, who was 0 for 4. Its a little tough because we know what were capable of. You have those series, those moments, when you go through kind of a lull.
Theres baseball truth in that statement, but these Phils seem to have a lot of offensive lulls. They have scored three or fewer runs in 31 of 57 games. They have the best record in the National League (34-23) mostly because of their pitching.
Sometimes when the Phillies have trouble scoring, Manuel sounds frustrated. Other times, he sounds as if hes trying to convince himself that his team will eventually hit consistently. This was one of those nights when you could detect both sentiments in his voice.
We need to score some runs, he said. What do we have, four runs the last three games?
This lineup will hit, Manuel added. This lineup has to hit. Ive got confidence in them. Ive seen them hit for four, five, six, seven years. I dont see any reason they wont.
We can get started any time they want to, thats how I look at it.
Hamels delivered another good pitching performance. He wasnt all that pleased with his work, but he certainly pitched well enough to win as he held Pittsburgh to one hit and one run over eight innings. With any kind of run support, Hamels gets his eighth win.
The lefthander wasnt pleased with his execution of pitches. He walked three and one of them was a killer a four-pitch walk to Ronny Cedeno in the bottom of the sixth, moments after Utleys two-out single had given the Phils a 1-0 lead. Cedeno took second on a sacrifice bunt and third on a wild pitch. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Tabata. Hamels looked to have come unglued a little in that one bad inning. He also balked in the frame.
I had no clue where the ball was going that inning, he said. Im glad I got out of it allowing just one run. I just tried to overdo it, making things work too much instead of letting them happen. I was trying to make the ball move more and I ended up missing my spots. I wasnt happy with the way I executed pitches all night. I left a lot of pitches up that were hit right at guys.
The Phillies also hit some pitches right at guys. With runners on first and second in the sixth, Placido Polanco lined into a double play.
Polanco played a brilliant game at third base, making a game-saving barehanded play to end the 10th.
The Phils used four relievers which could put them in a little bind Saturday night as Kyle Kendrick makes a spot start. J.C. Romero, Mike Zagurski and closer Ryan Madson did not pitch so they will line up behind Kendrick. Madson might not pitch unless the Phils can get a lead. The way the Phils have been scoring lately, one has to wonder if they can get one.