Cole Can't Hold, Phils Endure Dispiriting 4-3 Loss to Mets

Cole Can't Hold, Phils Endure Dispiriting 4-3 Loss to Mets

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'.

Watch: The Phillies pulled off the old double steal

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Watch: The Phillies pulled off the old double steal

The Philadelphia Phillies are attempting to salvage something this afternoon in Detroit this as they take on the Tigers. The Fightins got on the board early and hold a 2-0 lead midway through the second.

After a Peter Bourjos single scored Ryan Howard, Odubel Herrera came up to bat and didn't even have to move to get another run in.

The Phillies pulled off a double steal with Bourjos taking second which allowed Andres Blanco to come home easily.

With the Phils showing such little pop at the plate this season, a little hustle and ingenuity is needed.

Today's lineup: Phillies try to salvage game against struggling Anibal Sanchez

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Today's lineup: Phillies try to salvage game against struggling Anibal Sanchez

Justin Verlander mowed down the Phillies last night in a 3-1 Tigers victory, but the Phils have a chance to strike back this afternoon against a struggling pitcher who hasn't had much career success against them.

Anibal Sanchez will take the hill for the Tigers and oppose Aaron Nola in today's series finale (1:10 p.m. on CSN). To say Sanchez hasn't had a great start to his season would be an understatement. He's 3-5 with a 6.32 ERA and opponents are batting .270 against him.

In his career against the Phillies, Sanchez is just 4-8 with a 4.94 ERA. Granted, most of those numbers came in the early part of his career with the Florida Marlins, when he regularly faced powerful Phillies lineups. As one might expect, Ryan Howard, who is again in the lineup today as the designated hitter and batting fifth, has seen Sanchez plenty of times. His 42 at-bats against Sanchez are tied for third-most against the 32-year-old righty. Howard's done OK against Sanchez — 9 for 31 (.290 average) with two homers and four RBI. Maybe some familiarity will finally lead to a breakout game for Howard. But, if his massive slump is any indication, maybe not.

For as poor as Sanchez's start to the season has been, Aaron Nola's first six weeks of 2016 have been at the other end of the spectrum.

Today's Phillies starter is 3-3 with a 2.85 ERA. But he's been better than those numbers show.

His .900 WHIP is third in the NL, as is his 5.82 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His 6.45 hits allowed per nine innings is fourth in the NL, as is his 1.65 walks per nine innings. His 64 strikeouts rank eighth in the NL. Imagine if he got more than the 2.89 runs of support he's been getting in his starts.

As for the rest of the Phillies' lineup today, the only changes see Andres Blanco getting the start for Cesar Hernandez, batting seventh and Cameron Rupp behind the plate, batting sixth.

Phillies
1. Odubel Herrera CF
2. Freddy Galvis SS
3. Maikel Franco 3B
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Ryan Howard DH
6. Cameron Rupp C
7. Andres Blanco 2B
8. Tyler Goeddell LF
9. Peter Bourjos 1B

Tigers
1. Cameron Maybin CF
2. J.D. Martinez RF
3. Miguel Cabrera DH
4. Victor Martinez 1B
5. Nick Castellanos 3B
6. Steven Moya LF
7. James McCann C
8. Mike Aviles 2B
9. Jose Iglesias SS

Watch: Miguel Cabrera gives Jeremy Hellickson thumbs up for fooling him on nasty pitch

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Watch: Miguel Cabrera gives Jeremy Hellickson thumbs up for fooling him on nasty pitch

The Phillies once again couldn't find much offense and fell to the Tigers in Detroit last night by a final of 3-1.

But at least the pitching showed something.

There was a fun moment between Jeremy Hellickson and Miguel Cabrera after Hellickson threw quite a nice pitch that fooled Miggy.

Here's how Jim Salisbury described the fun battle:

Hellickson served up a down-the-middle fastball to Miguel Cabrera in the first inning and Cabrera swatted it for an RBI double. He has four RBIs in the first two games against the Phillies.
 
In the third inning, Hellickson struck Cabrera out on a nasty changeup for the third out. The pitch was so good that Cabrera flashed Hellickson a thumbs-up before spiking his helmet to the ground.
 
Hellickson’s changeup has been very good lately.
 
“I really feel comfortable with it right now and I’m throwing it for a lot of strikes,” he said.

And here's the thumbs up: