Monday, April 25, 2011
Posted: 11:45 p.m. Updated: April 26, 1:06 a.m.
By Jim Salisbury
PHOENIX In the sixth inning of Monday nights game, the public address announcer at Chase Field informed the crowd that fans attending the game on May 21 would get a free garden gnome dressed up in a baseball uniform.
Maybe Charlie Manuel can get one early and put it in the middle of his batting order Tuesday night.
The punchless Phillies need help.
They were shut out Monday night by a guy who entered the game with a 5.64 ERA. Right-hander Ian Kennedy held the Phils to three hits, two by Placido Polanco and one by Jimmy Rollins, in leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 4-0 win.
Cliff Lee took the loss despite striking out 12. He allowed a pair of homers and they proved fatal because of the lack of offense.
Lee pitched good, Manuel said. But if you dont score youre not going to win.
Thats the case most of the time, but there are exceptions to that rule. The Phils have averaged just 2.8 runs in the last 14 games yet have won nine of them.
The name of the game is still to win, Manuel said. At the same time, I have a saying: If youre not hitting .300, you need help. Ill always have that.
With that philosophy, a lot of Phillies need help. The team is hitting .200 (93 for 465) in its last 14 games.
Among the slumpers, Carlos Ruiz is hitless in his last 22 at-bats. Raul Ibanez is hitless in his last 21 at-bats. Wilson Valdez is 2 for his last 22. Jimmy Rollins is 5 for his last 35. Ryan Howard has 10 strikeouts in his last five games.
About the only one hitting is Polanco, who doubled and singled Monday night.
We hit one ball hard one, said Manuel, raising his voice in emphasis.
The skipper then amended that remark and mentioned that Ibanez hit a couple of balls hard.
Weve just got to keep working on improving our offense, he said. Itll come.
Kennedy allowed a one-out double to Polanco in the first inning. Polanco died at second as Kennedy struck out Rollins and Howard for the first two of his 10 strikeouts. The Phils got a runner to second just one other time on a balk.
Their guy pitched a real good ball game, Manuel said. He was aggressive with his fastball and he changed speeds on us. He was in and out with his fastball. He did a good job. Nothing cute, just pitching.
Lee is never cute. He always goes right at hitters. He was burned by that approach in the third when Chris Young hammered a first-pitch fastball way over the 413-foot marker in centerfield for a homer. It appeared as if Young was sitting first-pitch fastball. Gerardo Parra homered on a first-pitch cutter two innings later.
They were first-pitch hacking and got two home runs, Lee said. The first one caught more of the plate than Id like, but the second one, Ill take that pitch any time.
Lee allowed just five hits over seven innings and had plenty off stuff, as evidenced by the dozen strikeouts.
It was as good as Ive felt all year, he said. But just about everything they hit resulted in a run. Ive got to do a better job keeping the ball in the park.
And the Phillies have to do a better job scoring runs so a couple of home runs dont beat them.
This is one game, Manuel said. Well come back tomorrow and see if we can score some runs.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at email@example.com
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