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Balls, in Play: Twins 4, Phillies 1

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Desperate for a crisp win behind ace Roy Halladay to take some of the sting from Saturday's implausibly nightmarish 13-10 loss to the Twins, the Phillies turned in an offensive performance fully in line with the Deadbat Period (tm) of mid-May to mid-June. Carl Pavano, whose name spoken above a certain volume constitutes a crime in New York City, held the Phillies to four hits as he improved to 8-6 on the season--the same record to which Halladay fell with his third straight loss. 

Doc wasn't at his best Sunday afternoon--he surrendered a season-high 11 hits, including solo home runs to Denard Span and Justin Morneau--but he deserved better than what he got. The Twins batted .360 (9 for 25) on balls in play over Halladay's eight innings, with a seemingly endless stream of grounders up the middle for hits. By contrast, the Phillies were 3 for 28 (.107) against Pavano, including a bunch of hard-hit balls in the early and middle innings that died on the warning track or landed in the gloves of Minnesota defenders. (h/t PhillyFriar, who noted the BABIP disparities at several points in the game thread.)

Between the bad luck on balls in play and the bafflingly awful approach taken by Phils hitters--Pavano threw ten pitches or less in five of his nine innings, and finished the day with 105--this game was as frustrating to watch as any in the team's painful last month-plus. Wilson Valdez provided the lone bright spot, and saved the Phillies from their eighth shutout of this still-young season, with his fifth-inning solo homer, his second in as many days. 

After an off day Monday, the team hosts the Indians for three games. Perhaps by then Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz will be back in action, and the spark the team seemed to catch in winning four of five against the Red Sox, Yankees and Twins will be back in evidence.