Entering the sixth Friday night, Roy Oswalt had allowed multiple Marlins baserunners in four of five innings.
His fastball velocity was down…again. What was 92-94 last week in Washington quickly dropped back down to 90, and it is possible that Oswalt himself felt the fastball was flat, because 57 of his 104 pitches were offspeed.
In that sixth inning, he was hurt mostly by the slider, change and curve. Three consecutive Marlins singled to start the frame and John Buck followed with a first row opposite field grand slam. It was a cheapie, sure, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that Oswalt was left in way too long. Before the slam, Oswalt had allowed eleven hits. It was a rapidly deteriorating situation that called especially for ground ball maven, David Herndon, who was warming in the pen. Oswalt was over 100 pitches, but was left in and promptly allowed only the second grand slam allowed by Phillies pitchers this season.
This isn’t 20/20 hindsight … because even if Herndon came in and allowed the slam, there was no reason to think a struggling Oswalt could have prevented those four runs. Maybe Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee wanted to see how far back Oswalt was by seeing if he could work his way out of trouble. That’s the only possible explanation.
Charlie’s largely avoided criticism this year, but this was a bad decision.
Ryan Howard answered back with a three-run homer and the Phillies cut it to 6-5 when Michael Martinez doubled in the ninth, but the comeback fell just short.
A key at-bat for the Phils was John Mayberry’s in the eighth. With two outs and runners on first and third, Mayberry fouled off two home run pitches, the first up in the zone directly in the area where he has launched balls recently, the second right down the middle.
No one stays hot forever, and Mayberry is no exception. He hit a double Friday, but Mayberry’s plate appearances in the last two games (both losses) have shown that he is, indeed, human.
Tomorrow night’s game has been rescheduled for September 15, and we’re getting word here at CSN that Saturday afternoon’s contest is in danger.
If it is played, it would be Roy Halladay (15-5, 2.56) vs. Anibal Sanchez (7-6, 4.01).