The Philadelphia Phillies are best known for having no offense to speak of. However, Phillies fans like myself have been stunned to see that the offense has been scoring lately - it's just the pitching that has failed to keep up. Instead of games where Philadelphia can't give its starters enough support, the pitchers have tended to negate strong offensive performances in the current interleague road trip.
Yet order was restored on June 15 in Toronto, as the Phillies suffered a more typical loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. Although Vance Worley kept Toronto relatively in check, he had no support to speak of as Philadelphia suffered a more typical 3-0 defeat.
Being shut down like this was even more inexcusable since the Blue Jays bullpen did all the work. Toronto's starting rotation has been even more decimated than Philadelphia's lately, as Drew Huchinson became the third Blue Jays starter this week to leave with an injury. But although the Phillies faced relievers in the next eight-plus innings, they still got nothing at all.
All they could muster is five hits against five Blue Jays relievers - the kind of brilliant bullpen performance that the Phillies would kill for these days. It wound up wasting seven solid innings from Worley, who only gave up one earned run in the third and had an error lead to two runs in the forth.
It had actually been more than a week since Philadelphia's bats were clamped down like this. In fact, the Phillies had scored no less than four runs in every game on this current road trip - despite only getting to 3-3 after two straight wins in Minnesota.
It makes sense in this rough season that even when the offense finally gets going, the pitching has to let the team down instead. That is more likely to happen when Cliff Lee can't buy a win, Roy Halladay is out, Cole Hamels has come down to earth and Kyle Kendrick, Joe Blanton and Worley are constantly up and down.
But this opening game against the Blue Jays took the Phillies back to a simpler time, when they lost low scoring games instead of slugfests and could just use the bats as a scapegoat. Instead of going back to old ways of losing, however, it would be nice if Philadelphia could find new ways to win.
Yet currently, it seems easier for the Phillies to just go back and forth with their two established methods for losing. It would also be nice for the offense and pitching to work well in tandem for a extended period of time. But since that rarely happened when Philadelphia was winning, it seems like a ridiculous thing to hope for these days.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Phillies since he was eight years old.
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