The Philadelphia Phillies spent nine innings trying to get their typically high-octane offense going on Thursday, but couldn’t put a run on the board. They spent 12 innings trying to do the same on Friday.
The Phillies, riding a 23-inning scoreless streak, will look to break out of their slump on Saturday when they continue a three-game series with the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.
Philadelphia (62-53) has scored more runs than all but one NL team, but its bats have gone silent over the last two games. The Phillies mustered four hits on Thursday afternoon in a 3-0 loss to Florida, then collected six hits on Friday, going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in a 2-0, 12-inning loss to the Pirates (53-62).
“I don’t have the answer for it,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “And I don’t think the players do either.”
Pittsburgh improved to 11-3 in extra innings.
Philadelphia hasn’t been shut out in three consecutive games since May 20-24, 1983, when it was blanked once by San Diego and twice by the Los Angeles Dodgers. They haven’t gone this many innings without scoring since going 24 straight from Sept. 1-3, 2000, against the Dodgers.
The Phillies’ offensive struggles have been magnified in their two shutouts, but they haven’t been hitting the ball well since the beginning of August. They’ve scored 17 runs and are batting .192 so far this month.
If the Phillies are searching for a pitcher against whom they can break out of their slump, Ian Snell (4-8, 6.14 ERA) may be an ideal candidate. Snell has the highest ERA of any pitcher who has started at least 19 games, and he’s walked 65 batters, more than all but three NL pitchers.
His latest outing was another struggle in command. Snell lasted four innings against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday, allowing seven hits, three walks and four runs before leaving - partially due to his ineffectiveness and partially because of a stiff back. A Pirates’ rally kept him off the hook, but they lost 8-5.
“There was no reason to push it,” manager John Russell told Pittsburgh’s official Web site.
Snell hasn’t faced the Phillies in 2008, but pitched well against them in four starts over the last two seasons. The right-hander went 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA versus Philadelphia, striking out 30 in 27 innings.
His mound opponent will be another once-promising pitcher who has had issues with control this season. Brett Myers (4-9, 5.34) was sent to the minors at the beginning of July, and spent three weeks there trying to rediscover his fastball.
Myers led the majors in home runs allowed (21) when he was sent down, but he’s allowed just one in three starts since rejoining the Phillies. After a so-so outing in his first appearance, Myers has looked good in his last two, going 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA.
He didn’t get a decision Sunday at St. Louis, but went six innings while giving up two runs and four hits in Philadelphia’s 5-4 win.
“He wants to get back to where he is now more than anybody,” reliever Ryan Madson told the Phillies’ official Web site of Myers. “He’s a strong-minded guy. That’s why he’s good. That’s why he’s at where he’s at.”
Myers is 2-4 with a 3.00 ERA in six starts against Pittsburgh. He gave up four runs—including two homers to Nate McLouth—in five innings in a 5-1 loss at PNC Park on April 27.