Is Cole Hamels really unlucky this season, or is he just not that good? It's at least partly the former, but if you only watched tonight's start, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's solely the latter. Cole gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks in six innings tonight, striking out five but generally looking very pedestrian out there against a not-exactly-overflowing-with-talent Mets lineup. The Phils scored a quick three for Cole in the second, but he was unable to hold the Mets from there, and the Philly bats weren't offering much help beyond that. Final score: Mets 4, Phils 3.
Cole is now 2-11 on the year, the only pitcher in either league besides our old friend Joe Blanton to be in double-digit losses this early in the season. His ERA is now an average 4.50 for the season, and just about all his peripherals (K/BB ratio, homers per nine--he nearly gave one up to Eric Young tonight, of all people) are among the worst of his career. It's still confusing to know what's going on with our presumptive ace, since unlike Doc Halladay, he doesn't seem to have lost anything off his fastball or be having any particular trouble with his location, but losing at home to a crappy Mets team when spotted a 3-0 lead early--and laboring throughout the contest, really--is certainly not the type of performance we would've expected from Hamels going into the year, and the type of performance we've gotten from him far too often thusfar.
Anyway, Cole can't get all the blame tonight, considering the offense went scoreless in eight out of nine innings. It's hard to be too hard on Chase Utley on his first game back from injury, or Michael Young coming off a week where he hit .400 with six extra base hits, but their combined 0-10 in the 2-3 spots tonight were pretty deadly, none moreso than in the final inning, where their weak grounders and Ryan Howard's third-strike whiff meant that Dom Brown would not get his third chance in four games to be a hero with two outs in the ninth.
There were bright spots. Dom did get off the schneid a little with a 2-3, 1BB effort that included his first extra-base hit in 11 games, and Ben Revere stretched his hitting streak to an impressive eleven games, scoring two base hits that (of course) never even left the infield. And the Phils did have a pretty good chance to break this one back open in their favor, with Chooch working a 3-1 count on Scott Rice in the seventh with the bases loaded, then smacking one hard to center. But center fielder Juan Lagares was close enough to make a nice play on it, and the Phils never threatened again.
Tough loss to take with Cole on the mound, especially against a Mets starter like Jeremy Hefner, whose ERA against the Phils was over 15.00--yes, really--going into the game. And with the Nationals beating the Rockies tonight, the Phils are now 2.5 games behind Washington for third in the East, barely 48 hours after it looked like they were going to take a one-game lead on them with a three-game home sweep. Trying times for Phils fans for sure, and if the team doesn't start to turn things around soon--especially now that just about everyone is back and healthy--that rip-it-up-and-start-again talk is gonna get too loud for Ruben Amaro to drown out, for better or worse.
4:00 game tomorrow, with Jonathan Pettibone taking on Dillon Gee. Third one of the series is against Matt Harvey, so if the Phils don't get this one tomorrow, they're at serious risk of the Mets returning the favor for the Phils' Citi Field sweep in April. Just sayin'.