The word is out around the league: if you want to beat the Phillies, hit it to their pitchers.
For the second game in a row a throwing error by a Phillies pitcher sealed their fate. Rookie right-hander Scott Mathieson sailed through the Mets batting order without incident the first three innings, but the second time around nearly every batter he faced figured him out. Either that or he was just throwing fastballs and breaking balls that didn’t break right down Broadway, a location most welcome to all major league hitters. Still, Mathieson could have limited the damage to a few runs instead of a monster inning had he not picked up a ball and thrown high and wide to first base, nearly getting Ryan Howard seriously injured in the process.
For their part, the Mets sure do know how to celebrate good news. Having just signed the left side of their infield to long, lucrative contracts, the Mets watched Jose Reyes and David Wright deliver again versus the Phillies. Wright lined a double to get the scoring started and Reyes hit a grand slam to cap the seven-run fourth inning and send the Phils to a second straight defeat.
Clearly, many of us were getting a little ahead of ourselves with the euphoria over the mini winning streak of last week. True, the Phils are sporting a new look and, yes, there is reason for optimism, but whenever a team runs rookie pitcher after rehabilitating pitcher after aging out-of-shape hurler out there, bad things are going to happen as often as good ones. And then there was the offense. Except for Ryan Howard’s three-run homer on Saturday, the offense has reverted to early and mid-season form, failing to hit generally and in the clutch particularly. On the latter count, no one was more inept with runners in scoring position than Pat Burrell, the former Mets killer who no longer seems a threat to anyone but his own team.
Among the many tasks facing Pat Gillick this coming off-season is the urgent need to address a lack of consistency from the right side of the plate. Overall, Aaron Rowand hasn’t been much better than Burrell in the clutch though he has picked things up a little over the last week or so. Mike Lieberthal put on a little spurt last week as well, but there is no chance or desire that he will return next season. Indeed, with hot-hitting Chris Coste on the bench last night, the Phils could not send one reliable right-handed batter up to the plate.
It’s hardly a revelation to point out the Phils are getting most of their production from the left side with Utley, Howard and Dellucci, but I seriously doubt the latter will return next season. Every time the camera pans the dugout and picks up Dellucci he looks grim and uncomfortable. He has that David Bell look about him. Why would he sign with a rebuilding club when his bat will be in such demand this off season and his current salary makes him very attractive?
Reality, on vacation most of last week, has returned.