I confess: I watched and they lost. In my defense, I wish I hadn't. Lousy pitching, lousy defense and wasted scoring opportunities sent the Phillies back to sea level against a bunch of no-name Arizona Diamondbacks, this year's version of the Florida Marlins.
Charlie Manuel continues to work Greg Dobbs' bat into the lineup. Unfortunately, this isn't the AL so consequently Dobbs brings a glove along as well. Mental errors, throwing errors, fielding errors; Dobbsey has shown them all over the last week or so. It isn't as though the Phillies defense is so impressive overall that Manuel can afford Dobbs over Nunez, who by the way, is hitting nearly as well as Dobbs though not with nearly the same power. As last night's game proved once again, lest anyone has forgotten, defense still matters.
So, of course, does pitching, and when Jon Lieber absolutely melted down in the second inning and allowed seven hits and five runs, the camera showed Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee talking but, significantly, not removing Lieber. It was early, I guess, and the Phils didn't want to get into their vaunted bullpen any sooner than necessary. Seven hits and five runs must not equal "necessary" from management's perspective.
The Diamondbacks weren't exactly hitting bleeders and bloopers either. Most of their hits were shots, in the alley, off the wall, up the middle. Anyone who notes Lieber more or less settled down after that is missing the point. By the end of the second inning the game was lost. As it was, Lieber hung around for 6.2 innings and yielded thirteen hits. Yoel Hernandez got the final out in the seventh and Geoff Geary was touched for five runs in less than an inning of work in the eighth. In his defense, none were earned though he did yield two hits and a walk. Still, if his mates had fielded the ball cleanly the damage would have been limited and the Phillies late and aborted rally might have meant something.
Gone after a mere two days was the heady feeling of having swept the Braves in Atlanta. It would be one thing to lose to teams with the likes of Reyes, Wright, Beltran, the Jones boys and John Smoltz in the opposing dugouts, but not to a team I've watched for two straight nights and still cannot name more than two players.