Thursday, August 26, 2010

Phillies offense disappears as Astros sweep them out of town

With Ryan Howard and Chase Utley returning to the lineup, it wasn't supposed to be like this. With arguably their two best hitters coming back from injury, the Phillies offense was supposed to explode and it was only supposed to be a few days before they took the division lead away from the Braves. After a four game sweep at the hands of the lowly Astros, however, the Phillies find themselves sputtering at the wrong time.

The main culprit for the poor showing against the Astros was the offense that, with everyone healthy and back in the lineup, managed to score only 7 runs in 4 games, an average of 1.75 runs per game. While the Astros do have some decent pitching, the Phillies just couldn't get anything going against a team that has given up 4.65 runs per game this season. What made the series even more frustrating was that the Phillies wasted strong outings from Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton because they were so inept with bats.

It's hard to place the blame on any one individual player for the Phillies when really no one is swinging the bat well. Fueled by their below-normal production, there has been some speculation that both Howard and Utley rushed back from their injuries and are not healthy enough to contribute at this time. Howard for sure hasn't been himself since coming back, going 3 for 20 with only 1 RBI and no extra base hits.

What makes the 4 losses against the Astros even more frustrating is that the Phillies now have to travel to San Diego to take on the best team in the National League. With the Padres having one of the best pitching staffs in the league and the Phillies offense currently flailing, things could get ugly fast on the West Coast trip. Of course, knowing the Phillies, they could easily flip the switch and turn everything around in their very next game For the sake of their 3 game deficit in the division, let's hope that's the case.

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