Phils fall to Fish; end June on losing note
MIAMI – Jim Thome jumped in a life raft and headed up to Baltimore on Saturday
. The rest of the Phillies remained shipwrecked in Miami, looking at the start of a new month.
It can’t be much worse than the last one.
The Phils completed a 9-19 month of June with a 3-2 loss to the Miami Marlins on Saturday (see Instant Replay)
. It was their worst month since going 9-20 in September 2000. The loss was the Phils’ fourth in a row and dropped them to a season-worst eight games under .500. They remain 10 games behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East with the mathematical midpoint of the season arriving Sunday.
Saturday’s game ended with Hunter Pence (strikeout) and Shane Victorino (ground ball to short) making outs with the potential tying run on second base. The Phils went 1 for 4 with runners in scoring position and have just two hits in their last 23 at-bats in those situations. That’ll lose you some ballgames.
The Phils lost a lot of ballgames they probably should have won in June.
Eleven times in the month they sent either Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels to the mound. Lee finished third in the NL Cy Young voting last season, Hamels fifth. The Phils were 2-9 in those 11 games.
“When we can’t win with Lee and Hamels, that kinds of tells you how things are going,” manager Charlie Manuel said with a chuckle that spoke of resignation. “I don’t mean to laugh. It’s definitely not a laughing matter. Believe me, I’m more serious than that. We’re trying to turn it around. We’re trying to get something going and we can get so close yet we drift back and get so far away.”
That’s the Phillies in 2012.
One step forward. Two back.
They probably have three weeks, give or take, to turn things around before GM Ruben Amaro Jr. starts selling off talent. Pence, Victorino, maybe Lee, maybe Hamels … come on down.
Of course, it would help if Amaro could get a reliever in the coming days. Thome was dealt to Baltimore on Saturday, but that was because he didn’t fit on the roster. The return, a pair of minor-leaguers, is far from helping in the majors.
“I think we can turn it around,” Manuel said. “At the same time, we’ve got to play a hell of a lot better.”
Does Hamels think the Phillies can turn it around?
“In order to get going we have to put up a big-time winning streak,” he said. “Winning two or three is not going to cut it. It’s going to be winning 10 in a row. Sometimes it’s hard to get things going in your direction. You feel nothing is bouncing your way. But the good teams know how to survive. It’s just a matter of us digging deep and continuing to play.
“Obviously we’re not in first place or even close to first place. We have a lot of games and we need to play hard.”
Hamels is 0-3 with a 5.31 ERA in three starts against the Marlins this season. Giancarlo Stanton took Hamels deep in the first inning and drove in another run in the third. Mark Buehrle held the Phils to two runs over seven innings.
“It’s a difficult team to pitch against,” Hamels said. “There are times when I’m able to really control the pitch sequence and get them out. But you get in crunch time and it’s been tough to try to get the strikeouts or the double plays. They’ve been able to put good wood on the ball and get the hits or the sacrifice flies deep enough where they’re scoring runs, and that’s ultimately how you win games -- by getting the runs in.”
One has to wonder how the Phillies’ poor first half will affect Hamels’ desire to stay in Philadelphia. He, of course, is a free agent at season’s end.
“I’m not even thinking about that,” Hamels said. “I’m trying to not lose. Like today. I’ve got a game in five days, so that’s all my focus.”E-mail Jim Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org