I believe it was the almighty Meat Loaf who said “two out of three ain’t bad.” However, I doubt he was talking about the Phillies taking two of three games from the Mets during the weekend series in New York. While two games are better than one game or being swept completely, it would have been nice – and pretty damn satisfying – to sweep the Mets at Citi Field.
It’s the middle of August, and teams are in playoff mode. We’re already starting to get a pretty good idea of how the playoffs are going to shape up. Once the Phillies have the big boys back – Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, of course – they should be in pretty good shape. Even without two of their biggest power hitters and the best defensive second baseman in the game, the team’s been holding their own. The pitching’s been pretty consistent and solid – aside from Blanton and Kendrick, who don’t seem to know what consistency is – and there haven’t been too many errors in the field. The Phillies’ biggest problem right now is generating some offense.
Cole Hamels pitched a complete game on Friday night, giving up only one run on five hits, throwing 72 of 105 pitches for strikes while walking two and striking out eight. It should have been a no-brainer win, but unfortunately, the only hit that the offense produced came from Hamels’ bat. Without that, R.A. Dickey would have thrown the first no-hitter in Mets’ history. No team wants to be the one to allow that to happen, especially not the Phillies.
Doc Halladay pitched another phenomenal game on Saturday night, leading the Phillies to a 4-0 shutout over the Mets. He went eight innings and gave up no runs on four hits, striking out seven and walking none. Madson came in to close it out in the ninth, and though he ran into a bit of trouble by giving up two hits, he made it out unscathed. Shutouts are nice, but it’s important to keep in mind that two of the Phillies’ runs on Saturday were because of an error charged to Mets’ third baseman David Wright, and another because of an error charged to second baseman Ruben Tejada. Two runs just isn’t enough to guarantee a win, especially not this close to the playoffs.
The beginning of Sunday night’s game, where Kyle Kendrick faced off against Mike Pelfrey, was a little scary. It had been raining pretty steadily for most of the afternoon and into the evening, and though the grounds crew had kept the tarp on the field until around 7:30PM to prepare for the 8:05 start time, there were puddles around the infield when the game started– not exactly prime conditions for a game, especially for our injury-ridden Phillies. But they got through it. Kendrick gave up one run on six hits, struck out four and walked only one batter. Chad Durbin came in to get the final out in the sixth inning after Kendrick ran into a bit of trouble. Madson pitched the eighth inning, giving up one walk and striking out two. Brad Lidge pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to save the game, looking much like the Brad Lidge of 2008. He threw only nine pitches, seven for strikes.
It’s hard to find issues with a series when the Phillies take two of three, but the offense is definitely a problem these days. Hopefully, once Utley and Howard return, the bats will begin to wake up, but the entire team can’t depend on one or two players to carry the rest of them on their shoulders. It takes a team effort, and everyone needs to step up. The end of the season is going to be here before we know it, and if the Phillies want to guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs, they need to be the team we know they can be – a team with a stellar pitching staff, a powerful lineup, and the will and determination to make it to a fourth consecutive playoff series.
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