This past weekend, the Phillies were swept by division rivals, the Florida Marlins. The Phils lead in the NL East shrank from seven to four games in just under 72 hours.
For the second start in a row, Joe Blanton pitched another quality outing, going six and 2/3 innings and giving up three runs. Unfortunately, the result was the same: the opposing pitcher was that much better. The Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco kept the Phils’ offense in check, limiting them to only two runs on four hits and striking out seven. The Phillies left 13 men on base and went 1 for 7 with men in scoring position. ‘nuff said. The Marlins took game one, 3-2.
If there’s one thing Cole Hamels has been consistent with, it’s being inconsistent. Four runs, four walks, four K’s, and two home runs in five and a third innings did not cut it. Once again the Phils’ bats stranded runners like New Jersey Transit during rush hour (or any other time for that matter). The usually dependable Chan Ho Park coughed up another two runs, making a Phils rally that much harder. Shane Victorino started the bottom of the ninth with a triple and was promptly plated by a Chase Utley groundout. Ryan Howard reached on an infield single but Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez could not keep the inning going, and the Phillies dropped game two, 6-4.
Sunday’s game? I honestly don’t even feel like discussing it. The Marlins took game three by the score of 12-3. There was no silver lining to this dark cloud of a game. It was downright ugly on all fronts… offense, defense, pitching… I think my softball team could have given them a run for their money on this day. It was so bad, manager Charlie Manuel addressed the team after the game.
Ah, but the big story of this game, at least to me, is the bizarre ejection of Shane Victorino in the top of the seventh inning. It started with a very questionable called third strike by plate umpire Ed Rapuano on Ryan Howard in the bottom of the sixth inning. In the top of the seventh, Rodrigo Lopez threw an 0-2 pitch to batter Wes Helms that was called a ball. Victorino did not agree. Standing in centerfield, Shane threw up his arms in disgust. Rapuano, some 300 feet away, objected to his expression of opinion and proceeded to give Victorino a long-distance ejection. Shane casually jogged back, but quickened his pace once he got closer to the dugout. Blame the heat, blame the horrible circumstances on the field, blame his inner professional wrestler… but once Victorino got closer to Rapuano, he erupted. Shane pushed catcher Paul Bako out of the way, but was luckily subdued by several other teammates and sent back to the comforts of the A/C’d clubhouse. An absolutely fitting way to end the nightmare that was this game.
The Phillies have a much-needed day off on Monday to cool off, get their heads together and resume taking firm control of the NL East. The Phils travel to Chicago to face the Cubs then to Atlanta to face another division rival in the Braves.
This is where champion-caliber teams must show their true mettle. Dust it off. Take care of business.
About the Author
Written by Bryan Sargent
Bryan Sargent is a lifelong Phillies fan, currently residing in the least hospitable city for such a person as himself, New York City. This coming January he will be attending Phillies Phantasy Camp in Clearwater, FL. He is currently documenting the entire process on his blog (http://www.bryansargent.com). You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @BTSargent.