Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Phillies can't get out of their own way

PHILADELPHIA – Twenty minutes before the rain came, boos descended on Citizens Bank Park Wednesday night.
It was the middle of the seventh inning and Kyle Kendrick had become the latest member of the Phillies bullpen to blow a lead. In the last 10 days, the Phils have five blown saves.
Kendrick, who has had his share of struggles in five-plus seasons in Philadelphia, may have had his worst performance yet Wednesday.
He couldn’t find the strike zone – he walked two of his first four hitters and hit the fifth – and when he did he was hit hard. As if watching Kendrick cough up a two-run lead in the seventh inning wasn’t enough, Charlie Manuel shockingly sent Kendrick back out in the eighth, too.

The boos returned. After back-to-back doubles, Manuel slowly made his way out of the dugout and was greeted my mock applause form the South Philly faithful.
Kendrick, meanwhile, was the recipient of the loudest, angriest bunch of boos since Adam Eaton wore red pinstripes. And they came from an announced crowd of 43,840, the second smallest attendance at Citizens Bank Park since the 217-game sell-out streak began three seasons ago.
By listening to the paid customers Wednesday night, that streak could be in jeopardy this weekend.
In what was arguably the ugliest game of an ugly first month for the Phillies, Charlie Manuel’s team dropped a 10-6 loss to the Mets.
After taking two of three games in Atlanta last week, the Phils (14-18) have dropped five of their last six and are four games under .500.  It’s the first time they’ve fell four games below .500 in exactly five years, on
May 9, 2007.
Wednesday marked the fifth loss in the last eight days that the Phils had a lead or were tied in the seventh inning or later.
“Bottom line is, we’re not playing good enough to win,” Manuel said prior to the game. “We’re making mistakes… it’s kind of like that we’re sitting back waiting for the other team to catch up and beat us or we were thinking about that we have to win the game, and thinking that you have to that makes it a little bit harder and actually, you find a way to lose the game. That’s kind of what I see. ... Right now we’re just playing bad baseball.”
In the latest less-than-stellar defeat, the Phils were swept at the hands of the Mets at Citizens Bank Park for the first time since 2006.
In all three games, New York rallied from behind in the game’s last three innings. But on Wednesday, it was more of a case of the Phillies giving away a game than it was the Mets rallying back to win one.
On a night that began with Cliff Lee’s first start in three weeks, everything that could go wrong did go wrong with the exception of Lee himself. Lee gave up two runs on five hits in six innings since he hadn’t pitched since April 18, he was through after 84 pitches.
Lee, who watched the Phils score three runs total in his first three starts this season, was in line for a win when he took the mound with a 2-1 lead in the sixth. That’s when the folly of errors began in South Philly.
Mets leadoff hitter began the sixth by lining a ball into center. Shane Victorino tried to make a diving catch in shallow center, rather than play the ball on one hop.
As the Flyin’ Hawaiian took flight, the ball bounced underneath him and rolled close to the warning track, giving Torres a triple. Two batters later, he scored the game-tying run on a David Wright single.
The Phils once again tried to put Lee in position for the win in the bottom half of the inning. Brian Schneider, Freddy Galvis (3-for-4, two RBIs) and pinch-hitter Laynce Nix rapped together consecutive, two-out hits to give the Phillies their two-run lead back.
It wouldn’t last. When Kendrick took over in the seventh, so did the Mets.
Kendrick walked the first hitter he faced and gave up doubles to the next two. Then he walked eight-hole hitter Rob Johnson on four pitches before plunking pinch hitter Lucas Duda with the bases loaded.
Kendrick entered with a 4-2 lead. He left, before recording an out in the eighth, with a 6-4 deficit.
But Kendrick’s exit didn’t end the Phillies woes.
Jose Contreras came on and the second hitter he faced, Justin Turner, hit a lazy fly ball that Hunter Pence forgot to catch. Pence settled under the can of corn but forgot to close his glove after it briefly settled into his glove.
The next batter, Ike Davis, launched a three-run home run off the façade of the second deck in right field.
Later in the inning, Pence camped under another fly ball and made a catch.
A loud, sarcastic cheer followed.
But the boos ruled the day in the free-falling Phillies latest loss.


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