Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bullpen, offense fail sliding Phillies

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
Brett Myers has been nearly unstoppable since his stint in the minors, posting an ERA below 2 and striking out batters at a high rate. Myers finally looked human today against the Marlins as he gave up 4 runs, but he still pitched well enough to give the Phillies a chance to win. Unfortunately, the offense came up small for the Phils and the bullpen imploded in the late innings as the Phillies lost 7-3.

Myers did strike out 9 batters, but his performance was slightly overshadowed by his Marlins counterpart, Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco allowed 3 runs in his outing and looked sharp as he fought out of jams. The Phillies offense did their part in helping Nolasco out as they grounded into double plays, struck out (7 times) and were caught trying to stretch singles into doubles (Chase Utley in the 1st). The biggest positive offensively for the Phils was Ryan Howard, who hit his major league-leading 42nd homer.

The bullpen was the biggest culprit in the loss. With the Phillies down 4-3 in the 9th, the bullpen was unable to keep it close, allowing the Marlins 3 more runs to blow the game open. Chad Durbin, who seems to have worn down after a long season of tons of innings, gave up a lead-off single and then intentionally walked a batter. He was then yanked in favor of J.C. Romero, who also seems to be wearing down, and he allowed 2 runs to come in on a double.

The Phillies are fading at exactly the wrong time. Their loss today puts them 3 games behind the Mets and 4 behind the Brewers. While they are still in striking distance, they can't count on a team like the Mets to completely fade down the stretch, so they need to step up and start winning games. With a four game series with the Brewers this weekend, the Phillies could go a long way towards solidifying their Wild Card chances with a strong showing. Of course, if they lose three of four or even all four games, their season would basically be over.

Now is the time for the Phillies to pull off some of the magic tricks they used last year to vault into the playoffs. They better start winning before it's too late.

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