Monday, June 25, 2012

Let's Lose Two!

Anyone still harboring fantasies of a playoff spot should wake up and smell the cellar.

It's damp, musty, mildewed and in desperate need of a clean out.

The Phils dropped two to visiting Tampa Bay yesterday, quashing their own momentum from Saturday night's dramatic comeback win, denying Cole Hamels a well-deserved win in the opener, and extending Cliff Lee's winless streak to mid-season in the night cap.

The Phils could have tied the opener late in the game despite Antonio Bastardo's major league effort to lose it.  They had a man on third with one out in the eighth but John Mayberry and Shane Victorino failed to produce.  Let's not single out any one player, BUT as has been said in this space before, Victorino should be ordered to bat right-handed no matter who is on the mound.  His left-handed swings look worse than those of an Aussie trying to learn the game for the first time.

Charlie Manuel has been second guessed a lot for lifting Hamels yesterday, but it's pointless to belabor the issue.  He, pitching coach Rich Dubee, and Hamels himself all believe in pitch counts and Cole had nearly reached his at the conclusion of business in the top of the seventh.  Insert here my wife's favorite expression:  there are rules of reason and rules of administration.  At the very least you send Hamels out to start the eighth inning.  Is there a manager less flexible than Charlie?  Well, on Saturday night he won his 900th game at the helm of a major league team, an admirable and enviable accomplishment.  So, what do I know?

Without benefit of a statistician, it appears to be the Phillies' normally free-swinging lineup is trying to be more patient at the plate.  How do I arrive at this tentative conclusion?  I watched batter after batter take a first pitch strike right down Broad Street.  Now, only a batter who walks up to the plate predetermined to take the first pitch could lay off some of the fat ones I saw yesterday.  Yes, yes, I know, it's easy for me to sit on my couch and wonder why, but, then, I'm not being paid millions of dollars.  My advice is free, gratis and for nothing.