For a moment, Jimmy Rollins finally appeared poised to produce some runs from the three spot. Down 2-0 in the third inning with one out and runners on first and second, J-Roll lined a 1-1 curve ball deep to left that would have scored at least one, and potentially tied the game. Ryan Braun gave chase as the ball hung in the damp night, and instead the left fielder stabbed it out of the air in front of the wall (not pictured). Ryan Howard would ground out to end the threat.
Rollins' shot was one of several well-hit fly balls Brewers outfielders were able to snare, as Randy Wolf earned his third career win over the Phillies, and the Milwaukee bullpen pitched three scoreless innings to secure a ghastly 9-0 shutout. It was the first time the Fightins have been blanked this year.
The game may as well have ended on Rollins' near-miss, because the offense certainly was finished. Shane Victorino's double to set up that scoring opportunity would prove to be the final base hit of the game for the Phils, one of their whopping two. Carlos Ruiz, hit by a pitch in the fourth, was the last baserunner until only two outs remained in the ninth inning.
While the bats were a major disappointment, you have to credit the Brewers' pitching and defense to some extent. With the exception of the hanger he threw Rollins, Wolf kept the Phillies' hitters off balance for much of the night. He pitched six strong innings, striking out five. Most of the trouble Wolf did actually experience, he got himself into as a result of his three walks. The guys behind the mound bailed him out of the rest of the tough spots, particularly the very active and rangey outfield.
The game was still close until the seventh inning, when the Brewers were finally able to break it open. Trailing 3-0 with runners on, Charlie Manuel was hoping Roy Halladay could get through the inning so they could pinch hit for him in the bottom half. When Ryan Howard was unable to snag a sharply hit groundball off the bat of Prince Fielder that increased the lead to four, it was David Herndon time.
The next batter, Casey McGhee, found a pitch right in his wheelhouse, and gave it a ride over the left field fence to make it a 7-0 game. The inning would drag on further, and it was a nine-run deficit until all was said and done. At that point, Manuel began lifting starters from the game, including Ruiz who earlier had a Halladay pitch hit him in an unprotected area on his foot.
Fielder and Braun were a two-man wrecking crew, combining for five hits, four runs, and two RBI's on the night. Halladay was tagged for six earned runs in 6.2, and while it clearly wasn't his best stuff, he didn't pitch that bad. The Brewers did not hit many balls hard, but they were able to string together enough offense to score in the second, third, sixth, and seventh innings. Two of those runs were credited to Doc on the Herndon bomb.
Getting back to the Phillies' offensive woes, there is some cause for concern on the whole as they haven't scored more than four runs in over a week. It's been true for some time already they aren't as potent as when they delievered a championship in 2008, and we may be beginning to see some cracks with the current makeup of the lineup.
This is baseball though. The first 10 days, they were knocking the cover off the ball. Now they've come back to earth a little. It's a long season.