As well as things were clicking for the Phillies in July, the wheels have fallen off for the offense this month: Non-existent clutch hitting, abandoning leadoff baserunners, horrendous plate discipline. And some awful umpiring from Cowboy Joe West didn't exactly help matters.
The story again tonight was Cole Hamels and his continuing struggles. He surrendered a leadoff home run to Chris Coghlan, but them seemed to settle in until he began battling home plate umpire Joe West, whose strike zone in the early going was miniscule to say the least. Sitting at over 100 pitches in the sixth and protecting a 3-2 lead, Hamels allowed a leadoff walk to Jorge Cantu and then surrendered a deep home run to the Imp of Satan, Cody Ross. Maybe a quicker hook, Charlie?
Marlins' starter Sean West was far from sharp, allowing nine baserunners in four-plus innings pitched, but the Phillies just couldn't strike the killing blow. The Phillies' run scoring -- two runs in the second inning, one in the third -- was primarily the result of Marlins' misplays, including a dropped infield pop-up by Nick Johnson with two outs that allowed Ryan Howard to score the Phillies third and final run.
For crying out loud, Ryan Howard had three hits (two doubles!) against LHP, and they could barely do anything with it. The rest of the lineup was able to dink-and-dunk some hits, but without stringing anything together to start a real rally. Chase Utley continues to struggle, going 0-for-4 on the night.
The normally reliable but overworked Chan Ho Park had a rough outing, giving up two runs on five hits in two innings pitched, as the Marlins scored twice in the top of the eighth to pretty much put the game on ice.
The Phillies put up a struggle in the ninth inning, with Shane Victorino scoring from third on a Chase Utley groundout after a leadoff triple. Ryan Howard smoked a line single into the shift off Nick Johnson, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Jayson Werth, who scorched a line drive out to Chris f-ing Coghlan. With two outs, Raul Ibanez hit a line drive to Bonerface, and the game was over.
The Phillies now face the daunting challenge of trying to salvage the series against Cy Young Award candidate Josh Johnson, and with Jamie Moyer on the mound.
Happy times, people.
Westworld - Movie Trailer - 1973 (via RETROvisions)