By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—The Phillies 2-0 shutout loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers Friday night at Citizen’s Bank Park typified what has been a bad to mediocre 2014 season.
First off, you had a pretty good pitching performance by Roberto Hernandez, who allowed just two runs in six and one-third innings of work. Unfortunately, Hernandez’s efforts went by the wayside because his offensive teammates couldn’t hit with men in scoring position.
“I thought Hernandez was outstanding, battling through his seven innings with his 110 pitches,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. “We had three opportunities with two men and no outs.”
On three separate occasions—the fourth inning, the sixth inning and the seventh inning—the Phillies had runners in scoring position with less than one out.
Not only did they not score, they went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. In the fourth and in the sixth, it was their three, four, five and sixth hitters-Chase Utley, Marlon Byrd, Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf that came up empty. They were 0-for-6 with four strikeouts.
“I kind of felt, it could have went the other way with something here or there,” Sandberg said. “Against a tough pitcher, we created some opportunities with some base runners.”
On one level, you have to give credit to Dodgers starting lefthander Clayton Kershaw who kept the Phillies off the board with nine strikeouts while scattering two hits in six innings on the board. The Phils had their chances to put the knockout punch to Kershaw, but came up short.
“Kershaw did the job when he needed to and we didn’t,” said Phillies right fielder Marlon Byrd, who went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. “He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball.”
When you’re going up against a quality pitcher and you let him off the hook, you’re not going to win. That’s why this team is now five games below .500 and on a path to another bad season when their chase for the postseason will have an early ending.
I know you’re saying, dude it’s only May and we have a lot of baseball left to play. True, I am normally not in the habit of saying a team’s season is toast just two months into the season. But unless they can find some consistency on a regular basis in every aspect, they will head into an abyss from which they may never recover.
Throughout this season, the Phillies losses have been a continuum of not playing a complete game. If the starting pitching is going well, the offense falters. The Phils have been shut out in five of their last eight games at home. It was the If they’re hitting well, the pitching or the defense falls by the wayside. On some occasions this season the bullpen has been blown leads.
This is the kind of up and town play that makes me wonder if this is really the best team they can put out on the field. If that’s the case, this is going to be a long year which means the Phillies will be sellers at the July 31st trade deadline.
Yes, it’s only May and it may not be fair to some of you that we may be counting this team out early. But the reality of it is that we have to grips with the idea that this team is simply not that good and will not get better anytime soon.
It’s getting to the point where we may to cue former Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Mora’s playoff rant and apply it to this team: “Playoffs? Are you kidding me? Playoffs…”
At this point, the Phillies need to start winning games, starting with the next one.