Sunday, June 22, 2008

Angels Win Twice to Complete Sweep

The offensive lethargy that the Phillies have been displaying of late has continued, causing them to lose two more games to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and bringing their losing streak up to five games.

Saturday's game began as a scoreless pitching duel between Brett Myers and the Angels' Joe Saunders. It was good sign for Myers, who had broken a string of impressive appearances with his previous start. When Vladimir Guerrero made the best of a rare interleague opportunity to maintain his reputations for hitting the Phillies hard by hitting a solo home run in the fourth, Myers recovered well.

The Phillies, had no reason to lose faith in this one-run game, but they missed their much-needed opportunities to seize the lead. By the seventh Myers could not prevent the Angels from scoring a second run, which they did in exactly the same manner as the first, making Guerrero's reputation more secure than ever.

The Phillies got their chance in the bottom of the inning. The later part of the order came through with two out as Jayson Werth hit a home run, Chris Coste walked, and Pedro Feliz scored him with a double, tying the game at 2-2. This brought Eric Bruntlett to the plate with Feliz on second. Bruntlett, hitting .252, was in the game to play second because Charlie Manuel had wanted to give Chase Utley a day off, hoping the rest would help him break a developing ofer. Manuel elected not to pinch hit with Utley even in this potentially vital situation, and Eric Bruntlett seemed to bear him out by hitting to center field. As Feliz ran, from second, however, Steve Smith held him at third. Bruntlett did not see this and assumed that Feliz would try to score and the the throw from the outfield would come home. He tried to make his hit into a double, but was called out when the throw came into second.

This baserunning mistake and the Phillies' consequent failure to score would prove to cost them the game. Charlie Manuel left Myers in to pitch the eighth, as the only runs he had surrendered had been on possible flukes off the bat of Vladimir Guerrero, a hitter notorious for hitting pitchers' pitches.

However, Myers couldn't keep it a close game any longer. An Erik Aybar home run gave the Angels a 4-2 lead, which the added to against Chad Durbin in the next inning to win 6-2. So Taguchi, who had entered for Pat Burrell, failed to prove himself useful when he badly misplayed a ball in left field.

The prospects for last night's game looked better. The Phillies had their ace going in Cole Hamels against the mediocre Jered Weaver. Hamels' performance was perfectly adequate, but still not sufficient for a win without much run support. The only flaw in his night came in the second, when Vladimir Guerrero continued to hurt the Phillies by scoring on a Gary Matthews, Jr. single, and Casey Kocthmann hit a two run home run.

The Phillies were never able to make up the three-run deficit. An encouraging third saw Chase Utley break his slump with a double and Ryan Howard drive him in, and the game went quickly until Jimmy Rollins picked up an RBI double in the seventh. Greg Dobbs got another start at third, a move that may have been to rest Feliz but which doesn't make much sense to make with any frequency. The Phillies dropped the game 3-2.

Philadelphia has looked very unimpressive against its American League opponents so far, and the results are starting to look more like a team slump than the expected results of an interleague matchup.

No comments: