There are very few truisms in baseball. Good pitching beats good hitting . . . except when it doesn't. A strikeout the worst thing a hitter can do . . . except when it's better than grounding into a double play. You have to get runners home from third with less than two outs . . . except when you score in other innings in other ways.
But there is one absolute truism with no exceptions whatsoever - if you score no runs, you can't win the game. Tonight, for the
fourth fifth time this season, the Phillies proved that point once again.
Facing vintage Greg Maddux*, the Phillies never mounted much of a threat other than in the second inning when John Mayberry Jr. tried to score from second on a single from Michael Martinez (your new center fielder!) and was thrown out at the plate. There was also a bit of hope in the top of the ninth when Tyler Clippard walked Chase Utley and Nate Schierholtz, but pinch hitter Ryan Howard struck out looking to end the game.
On the other side of the ball, the Nationals took advantage of a vintage 2012 Phillies performance. Cole Hamels pitched well, but allowed a second inning home run to Adam LaRoche (damn you HR/FB!). That would have been enough for the Nationals, but they also scored two runs in the third inning thanks to errors** on easy ground balls by Utley and Jimmy Rollins. LaRoche and Jayson Werth, back from his long DL stint, knocked in the two runs for the Nationals.
There was no more scoring after that, thanks to solid pitching from Hamels and a shaky but scoreless inning from Michael Schwimmer.
On the bright side, the Phillies still took the series from the Nationals, 2 games to 1. Tonight's shutout can't change that.
Fangraph of slow uselessness below:
* Greg Maddux did not pitch tonight for the Nationals. Ross Detwiler did.
** Neither Chase Utley nor Jimmy Rollins were charged with errors, even though they did in fact make errors.