J.A. Happ left Phillies hitters feeling Happ-less last night.
*tumbleweed rolls by*
I'm sorry. Yes, I'm done now.
Once again last night, the Phillies' disappearing, reappearing offense pulled one of their disappearing acts in losing 3-0 to Happ and the lowly Toronto bullpen at Citizens Bank Park. In the process, they lost a chance to move two games over .500, establish some momentum and kick-start even the smallest of winning streaks following their series win over the Nationals this weekend.
The Phils managed only three hits and four walks against James Andrew Happ and his 4.24 career ERA in his five innings of work. In all, the Phils' offense tallied seven hits on the night and five walks against four Toronto pitchers. The problem? Only one of them was an extra-base hit, a lead-off triple in the bottom of the sixth that was erased when the next hitter, Ryan Howard, hit a medium fly ball to right that was caught by Jose Bautista, who then gunned Byrd down at the plate with a perfect strike.
The kick in the pants was that the next batter, Carlos Ruiz, knocked a clean single into right field.
Still, that would have only made the score 3-1. And a couple of small uprisings aside, like the Phils' 1st and 2nd with one out situation in the seventh that netted zero runs, the offense could not take advantage of the few opportunities they had, going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and leaving 11 men on base.
This is not a new story. But it is a frustrating one.
It was the 15th time in 30 games the Phils have scored three runs or less. There was a four-game stretch against Atlanta and Colorado in which the Phillies scored 0, 1, 1, and 1 runs. Yet, in the two games that immediately followed, they scored 10 runs and seven runs. Overall, the offense has shown an ability to put up some crooked numbers at times, scoring five runs or more nine times this year.
What you get is a Phils offense that has shown the ability to score, but also one that has a tendency to go in deep hibernation. And rarely do you know when it's going to happen.
Of course, last night was probably more predictable than other games, as Sandberg fielded a lineup that featured Jayson Nix, Freddy Galvis and John Mayberry, who are a combined 12-for-95 so far this year (.126 batting average). Even against Happ and a collection of nameless, middling Toronto bullpen ham-and-eggers, the Phils were going to be playing with what was essentially half a lineup.
And it showed.
But the perception so far this year is that the Phils' offense has been really good. Let's check the stats again.
Heading into last night's game against the Blue Jays, Phils' hitters ranked 12th in the National League home runs, 11th in runs scored, and were 12th in ISO. They were middle-of-the-pack in slugging percentage and OPS (8th in both categories) and the only areas in which they were decent was in team batting average (3rd, at .255) and on-base percentage (6th, at .315).
Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz are having terrific offensive seasons, Ryan Howard has been OK and Marlon Byrd is heating up, now hitting .296 after a 2-for-3 night with an ISO of .170 and a team-leading 22 RBIs. But Ben Revere, Domonic Brown and whoever is playing third base on a nightly have to do more, and the Phillies desperately need some bench reinforcements (Darin Ruf you say?) who can add a little offense when one of the regulars needs a break. Playing Utley, Howard, Rollins and Ruiz 155+ games this year probably isn't a recipe for keeping them healthy.
Listen, the offense is better than it has been the last two years. But it still has a tendency to disappear at a moment's notice, even against lousy pitchers like Happ and the Toronto bullpen, which helps make it very hard to sustain a winning streak of any significant duration.