Saturday, April 19, 2008

Phillies Hitting Lags in Loss to Mets

The Phillies' offense once again looked sluggish in their latest 4-2 loss to their New York rivals. With Rollins and Victorino disabled and Howard slumping horribly, it seems as if the only two players who are contributing at the plate are Chase Utley and Pat Burrell. It's nice to see them playing well, but it's not enough to win games.

Jamie Moyer did what Jamie Moyer is around for. After allowing two in the first he held the Mets down for five more and was removed from the game before he could have a characteristic meltdown. It doesn't do any good to keep a team in the game who won't get into it in the first place, though. Not hitting against Johann Santana has come to be one of the occupational hazards of being a Major League Baseball player. Not scoring against Oliver Perez says there might be a problem somewhere.

It says something about the production in this game that the Phillies didn't score until the seventh, and when they did it was on a Chase Utley solo home run. Pat Burrell, who scored their other run the following inning when Carlos Ruiz singled him in, has been looking uniformly good lately, and it's still hard to get over the shock. The difference can be seen not just in his numbers, but even his very look at the plate. When he drew a walk today it didn't look as if he was afraid to swing as it often did in the past, but as if he was actively fighting off the pitches he didn't want. He mde a nice catch near centre today, indicative of the more awake look he is starting to have in the field as well. Let's hope it continues.

Ryan Howard these days couldn't be a greater contrast. He's a home run hitter, but one of his greatest strengths is that when he's hitting, he doesn't just hit home runs: he's a contact hitter who happens to over the outfield wall a good percentage of the time. Howard needs to remember this and go for hits rather than swinging wildly for the fences or letting perfect strikes sail past him.

There's little else to do until Rollins and Victorino come back except hope Howard gets hot, Feliz starts to produce, and the momentum builds, though I for one would like to see Greg Dobbs, who has been pinch hitting excellently, get some starts. Some kind of offensive pickup, for whatever cause, will be needed before the Phillies can stop losing 4-2 games like this one.

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