Friday, April 27, 2012

Phils Return Home, Drop Opener to Cubs 5-1

Tough night for the Phils who, after returning from a long west-coast trip which saw them finally put some crooked numbers on the board, struggled to produce in just their seventh home game of the season.

It looked promising. Roy Halladay was on the mound, and they had scored 20 runs in their last 19 innings. The Chicago Cubs have been struggling to score runs. It seemed like the perfect storm.

But the Phillies dropped the series opener 5-1, behind Doc who struggled but battled, and a faltering offense.

Once again, the first inning looked promising. Juan Piere led-off with a knock, advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on Placido Polanco's base hit. Jimmy Rollins, after a foul pop-up or two that made its way out of play, popped out foul to the catcher for the first out. Ouch. Hunter Pence followed with a pop-out to the shortstop for out number two. Ouch. Shane Victorino followed with an inning ending ground-out. OUCH.

Doc was dominant at the start, but struggled with command in the middle innings. He ended up falling to 3-2 after allowing three runs on six hits, two walks and five strikeouts.

The Phils managed nine hits, but only two were for extra bases; a double for Carlos Ruiz and a solo home run for Ty Wigginton, his second of the season.

Rollins continues to make a case for demotion from the three-hole, a spot typically reserved for the team's best hitter. His 0-for-4 dropped him to .216 for the season, and his first inning at bat is extremely tough to swallow. Even if he hits a double play ball, the Phils would have taken a 1-0 lead. He couldn't even manage that, as he left three runners on base for the game.

Joe Blanton (1-3 4.34) takes the ball tomorrow night against Randy Wells (0-0 3.60). Since Blanton's outstanding first start against Miami in which he allowed one run on three hits over seven innings, he struggled in his following two outings at San Francisco and San Diego. He's never beaten the Cubs, but has a 3.04 ERA against them in his career.

Wells has made just one start this season, allowing two runs on six hits and five walks over five innings against Cincinnati. He's decision-less against the Phils in his career, with a 2.89 ERA over just 9.1 innings.

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