—Citizens Bank Park
At 6:55 p.m., the Phillies were doomed. Not only was bad weather looming, but Joe Blanton had just been pulled from his start only minutes before first pitch due to a sore right elbow – the same one he’d been struggling with for weeks. Pile that garbage on top of the foul-smelling Phillies offense, and you’re in for a long evening. After two hours, 55 minutes of hell, the Phils ended their squeeze-week series with the Rockies, losing 7-1.
By the time the rain ended (roughly 8:15 pm), two pitching changes had been made, left fielder Carlos Gonzalez left the game with an injury, enough diamond dry was used to fill a sandbox, and Cliff Lee pinch-hit for the first time in his career, struck out, and completed it with a standing ovation from the soaked, yet sold-out crowd.
Just your typical Thursday evening at the ballpark. Oh, and Jason Giambi used Citizens Bank Park as his own personal launching pad, connecting for three home runs for the first time in his career.
Following the ugly loss, Ruben Amaro made the announcement that both Blanton and Shane Victorino were likely on their way to the DL on Friday. When it rains it pours.
Victorino’s hamstring issue seemed to be healing the last few days, however, an MRI showed between a Grade 1 and Grade 2 strain. And before you get excited, Amaro said Domonic Brown is unlikely to be called up from Lehigh Valley to take Victorino’s spot. No roster moves will be made until tomorrow.
The first two home runs by Giambi came via starter Kyle Kendrick, who was used in Blanton’s spot. They were absolute rockets, landing in the second deck in right field. Giambi’s third home run, also to right field, was given up by Danys Baez. Giambi is the second oldest player in MLB history to hit three homers. He’s now in the record books, right behind Stan Musial.
To be fair, Kendrick was literally told minutes beforehand that he would be starting. To be real, Kendrick flat out stunk. Jason Giambi tortured him, and Baez, accounting for all seven Rockies runs.
If you get queasy easily, look away – Kendrick’s final line is enough to make a man sick: three innings, seven hits, five earned runs, one walk, two strikeouts, and two huge mistakes.
Also vomit-worthy is this thing the Phillies call an offense. To use an unimaginative play on words, it’s downright offensive. If there is any consolation, the team did manage six hits, narrowly missing out on a team record of six straight games with five or fewer hits. Six hits may as well have been one, or none, as the energy was sucked out of the building when Giambi’s first home run landed. It was all downhill from there.
Pinpointing the problem will only give you the spins. Ryan Howard is in deep slump, now 0-for-his-last-20, including six straight games without a hit, a new record for futility for him. Having your only true slugger in this sort of wretched streak only amplifies the issues on offense, which clearly stem from a number of average players playing together. Howard’s average is down to .241, and that hot April seems like eons ago.
With Victorino headed to the disabled list, look for more of the same to continue.
And with Blanton also likely gone for a while, look for the deluge of bad news to continue for at least one more day.
-Thats now five straight games with two runs or fewer for the Phillies. The team record is nine in a row, set in August of 1961.
-Michael Stutes pitched the eighth innings and looked fine. He struck out two and his fastball hit 94 on the radar gun. Looks like his back issue was simply a cramp or spasm.
-Scott Mathieson pitched pretty well in his two innings of work. He gave up three hits, but did strike out three without allowing a run.
UPDATE, Friday 12:40 am: Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that it’s likely to be Vance Worley taking Joe Blanton’s spot in the rotation and either Ronnie Belliard or Delwyn Young taking Shane Victorino’s place on the roster.