It took the Phillies offense eight innings to get two hits in one frame on Tuesday night. Ryan Howard’s two-out eighth inning single tied the score at two. It took their bullpen only five batters to give it right back, as a Justin Morneau single off Antonio Bastardo a half inning later sealed their fate against the Twins. The 3-2 loss was the fourth straight for the Phils.
At this point, you have to feel Cole Hamels’ pain. The lefty was nowhere near sharp, but he refused to come unglued and kept his team in the game. The Phillies have now scored 31 runs for Hamels in his 14 starts. Yuck.
OFFENSE IMPATIENT AGAINST WALTERS
- All night, the Phillies were swinging early and often at the low-to-mid 80s fastball of P.J. Walters. I don’t remember the last time I saw a mediocre pitcher have such an easy time with a major league lineup… or at least not one based north of Miami. The Phillies had seven hits, but they only hit four balls hard by my count, two of which came off the bat of Michael Young.
- As an unexceptional Twins lineup grinded out quality at-bat after quality at-bat against the All-Star caliber Hamels, the Phils hacked at anything soft-tossing and unproven Walters threw towards the plate. Here are the pitches-per-inning for the two starters through six innings: Hamels: 18, 22, 18, 23, 11, 16 for 108 pitches. Walters: 13, 12, 8, 14, 17, 14 for 78 pitches. Wow.
- The Phillies were able to scratch out a second run in the top of the eighth, stringing together three singles, the last coming from Howard. With runners on, the Twins were unable to play the shift and the not-so-Big Piece ripped a hanging breaking ball through the infield to tie the game at two. A single from Michael Young in the third accounted for the team’s first run.
BULLPEN BLOWS IT
A half inning later, Bastardo had Morneau buried in a 1-2 count with two outs and runners on the corners. Morneau fouled off three pitches before lining a single up the middle to break the 2-2 tie. As Chris Wheeler pointed out, it was surprising Bastardo threw Morneau a fastball, much less one right down the middle, with the count so heavily in his favor.
HAMELS LABORS THROUGH SIX
- For all that was made of Hamels coming to grips with what he can’t control from a mental standpoint, the $144MM lefty sure looked like the emotional mess we saw for most of the 2013 campaign on Tuesday night. Hamels was visibly frustrated on the mound, as the Twins hitters ran deep counts, fouling off pitch after pitch. He labored through six innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs. He exited after the sixth with the Phillies trailing 2-1.
- Despite only allowing two runs, Hamels threw 81 pitches in the first four innings and finished with 108. After sparring with the home plate umpire in the fourth, an irascible Hamels allowed four straight hits – three doubles and a single, all hit hard – that gave the Twins a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Cole was bailed out when a nifty play by Freddy Galvis resulted in an inning-ending double play. The first two doubles, by Josh Willingham and Morneau, definitely would have left the yard at Citizens Bank Park.
- Hamels recovered nicely to pitch impressive frames in the fifth and sixth. While his line looked pretty good at the end of the night, Cole would probably be the first to tell you he’d much prefer a smoother path to a quality start. The Twins fouled off an incredible 28 pitches against him.
DID YOU NOTICE?
- The Phillies failed to homer for the first time in 15 games on Tuesday night at spacious Target Field. They went 7-7 over that 14 game stretch.
- The offense may have failed Hamels, but his defense did not. In addition to Galvis’ run-saving play in the fourth, Michael Young made a great diving stop to his right in the sixth which helped lead to a scoreless frame for Hamels.
- Molasses-slow and a liability in the outfield, it’s pretty obvious that Delmon Young’s contributions can only come through his bat. With that considered, Young has to be the worst overall player in recent memory being written into a Phillies lineup on an everyday basis. Young was 0 for 4 on Tuesday, seeing a measly 11 pitches in his four plate appearances. Eleven pitches in four at-bats. The man truly is a quick and automatic out. The lesser Young is now hitting .224/.281/.422 on the season.