By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report/Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—At some point this season, the Phillies will need to get their offense going to the point to where they don’t have to wait until the ninth inning when the game is on the line.
It would really help if their starting and relief pitchers wouldn’t put the team in such a deep hole.
The Phillies trimmed a five-run deficit to one, but could not come up with that one big hit that could have won the game as the Kansas City Royals escaped a furious ninth-inning rally with a 9-8 win in front of 39, 451 fans at Citizen’s Bank Park who were hoping for another miracle comeback.
With men on second and third and two out, Royals relief pitcher Kelvin Herrerra struck out Phillies catcher Erik Kratz to end the game.
“We’re going to be alright. We’ve played six ball games and we’ve yet to put a solid game together,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “We should have scored more runs today and we had chances to score more runs.”
The real issue in this game was starter Cole Hamels who has surrendered 13 earned runs in his first two starts (11.47 ERA).
In five and two-thirds innings of work against Kansas City, he allowed six runs on nine hits including a grand slam homerun by Royals first baseman Billy Butler that transformed a 4-2 Phillies lead into a 6-4 deficit.
“Cole usually doesn’t walk many people and give up that many runs,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “It’s his command. He threw some balls close today, but at the same time, it was his command that go him in trouble.”
Hamels said the most frustrating thing about his first two outings is not pitching well enough to give the team a chance to win.
“It’s giving up runs and not giving the team the opportunity to win,” Hamels said. “When we’re able to score runs early, you want to be able to keep in the team in the ball game and I wasn’t able to do that.
“ It’s first and foremost to win the ball game no matter who you’re playing or who’s pitching. All of his in here want to win and I wasn’t able to do that in two straight games.”
The Phillies got off to another good start in the first inning with RBI singles from Chase Utley, Domonic Brown and Michael Young. They also got a sacrifice fly from Erik Kratz that drove home Young to give the Phils an early 4-0 lead.
That was the end of scoring phase of the game for the Phillies until the ninth inning when Jimmy Rollins hit a three-run homer and Laynce Nix got an RBI single to cut the Royals lead to one.
Earlier in the game, the Phils had a runner on third in the third inning and a runner in second in the fifth, but failed to score.
“For a while we were getting guys on base and not getting the big blow,” said Phils third baseman Michael Young, who was 4-for-5 with an RBI. “But that’s alright those things come around. The biggest thing is getting guys out there and eventually we’re going to bring them in.”
The Royals would cut the deficit to 4-2 in their half of the third inning on an RBI double by shortstop Alcides Escobar that scored Chris Getz and a ground out by Butler that scored Alex Gordon.
In the fifth, a double by Getz, an infield single by Gordon and a walk to Escobar set the stage for a grand slam home run by Butler, who drove in seven runs. He would drive in two more in the sixth.
After Hamels departed with the bases loaded in the sixth, Chad Durbin came and then allowed a two-run to single to Butler.
While the runs weren’t charged to Durbin it was yet another example of the bullpen’s inability to put the fire out and keep the team in the game.
“That’s his spot,” Manuel said. “We were down by two runs at the time and that’s his spot. Durbin is to known to be a slow starter and so is (Jeremy) Horst. It kind of happens sometimes. We were pitching who we have and that’s who we have right now.”