By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett threw 128 pitches on a warm Sunday afternoon at Citizen’s Bank Park and the Phillies couldn’t hit any of them.
Thanks to an effective mixing of his pitches, Beckett tossed his first career no-hitter as the Dodgers came away with a 6-0 shutout victory over a visibly frustrated Phillies squad that has forgotten how to hit and score runs at their home park.
“Amazing,” said Phillies rightfielder Marlon Byrd. “He used his curve ball like I’ve never seen him. He did everything off of that. The guy hit his spots. All nine, no hits.”
Beckett said he wasn’t nervous about throughout the course of the game. He said he was kidding around with his teammates in the dugout about it during the fourth inning. In baseball lore, it is supposedly bad luck to even think that you’re going to toss a no-hitter, especially in the middle innings.
“I was joking around about it. No one else was joking about it,” Beckett said. “I was telling (manager Don Mattingly) in the fourth inning, it’s threes inning than I’ve taken one before. It was an ongoing joke. In the fifth inning, this four innings than I’ve ever taken on before.”
While you definitely have to tip your cap to an outstanding performance by a pitcher who is probably heading to the Hall of Fame, Beckett’s no-hitter against the Phillies was something that was bound to happen sooner or later given the Phillies inability to get timely hits and score.
“We’ve had our ups and downs at home with scoring runs,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. “We’ve scored in bunches and we’ve had some closed spots. It’s something we need to improve on and that’s the whole lineup that needs to care of that.”
The no-hitter was reflective of the Phillies offensive’s inconsistency and in their inability to figure out the problem and solve it.
In five of their last 10 home games, the Phillies haven’t been able to score runs. It’s the second time in two days they have been kept off the scoreboard. They can’t buy hits when they have runners in scoring position. In the Phillies two losses to the Dodgers this weekend, they are 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
In Beckett’s no-hitter, the Phillies didn’t get a runner in scoring position until the bottom of the ninth inning when Jimmy Rollins reached on a walk and then stole second base without a throw from the catcher, which is ruled as a fielder’s choice- defensive indifference.
You have to wonder are they this bad on offense? Is it a case of them pressing or trying too hard in their approach to the plate?
“You want to get the job done regardless,” Byrd said. “Nobody goes out there and tries not to get any hits. You want to drive in runs, you want to get on base and make things happen. Pressing? It’s a good possibility when you have chances with runners in scoring position and need a big inning and they put up one or two runs and you’re trying to come.
“The way it looks when you’re watching games, it could look like we’re pressing.”
In spite of all their hitting woes, Sandberg is optimistic that his team won’t wallow in their current funk for long. He said he expects to them to get back on the wagon and starting hitting again.
“I’d say the attitude of our guys is to get right back out there tomorrow and do something about it,” said Sandberg when he was asked if his team would feel a snow-ball effect from their hitting woes. “That’s the character of the guys they’ve been able to bounce back from losses and some tough games that’s what I anticipate tomorrow.”
Conspicuously absence from the Phillies postgame club house were its long time stars in Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Rollins, who gave a short, terse response to reporters as he was leaving the locker room: “(Beckett) was good. There’s nothing else to be said.”
For those guys, the three faces of this franchise not to speak to the media about this game and the way this team is playing is absolutely appalling. Phillies fans deserve a lot more than that from their franchise players. You have to be a stand-up guy when things are going well and be able to face the music when things are going bad.