Friday, July 13, 2012

Lifeless Phillies lose 11th out of 12

DENVER – Although Major League Baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement last fall laid out a new rule, that all teams would get the Thursday after the All-Star Game off from now on, the Phillies returned a little earlier than most teams.
Charlie Manuel had his slumping bunch of stars arrive at Coors Field for mandatory pregame batting practice at 1:30 p.m., more than five hours before Friday’s first pitch.
But the manager was in an ornery mood a couple of hours later. Either he didn’t particularly like what he saw or the All-Star break still wasn’t long enough.

“I’m all right, I’m always ready,” Manuel said before the game on whether he was refreshed after the break. “I’ve been here 50 years and I’m always [bleepin’] ready. I’m always the first one to the yard and the last one to leave. I’ve been doing it every year.”
Charlie may have been ready. But the nine names he wrote into his lineup were not.
With what appeared to be his ideal Opening Day lineup, with former Cy Young winner Cliff Lee in place of fellow former Cy Young winner Roy Halladay, the Phils looked lifeless in their return from the break.
Colorado rookie left-hander Christian Friedrich, who entered the night with a 5.98 ERA, held the Phils to one run on five hits in six innings as the Rockies coasted to a 6-2 victory.
The middle of the aforementioned, healthy lineup – Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard – were a combined 0-for-9 with three strikeouts against Friedrich.
The 25-year-old Friedrich was making his 13th major league start on Friday the 13th. In his previous six, he was 0-5 with a 7.85 ERA; opponents hit .336 against him with a 1.011 OPS.
But he looked just as good as his $120 million pitching counterpart Friday.
After giving up a one-out double to Carlos Ruiz in the fourth, Friedrich retired seven of the final nine batters he faced, five by strikeout. Friedrich struck out seven while walking one Friday.
Fresh off his first win in 14 starts this season, Lee match Friedrich for most of the night. The only run he allowed in the game’s first five innings was unearned, thanks to a second inning error by Utley.
But Lee came undone in the sixth.
With the Phils and Rockies locked in 1-1 game, Lee gave up a one-out double to Tyler Colvin in the sixth. Colvin was the first five straight Colorado batters to either reach base or drive in a run.
Lee once again didn’t get very much help from his defense.
With two on and one out, Josh Rutledge hit a fly ball to left that became a sacrifice fly when Hunter Pence’s throw sailed over Carlos Ruiz’s head. The next batter, Eric Young Jr. knocked in the second run of the inning when he singled to left and John Mayberry Jr. apparently borrowed Juan Pierre’s arm, not coming anywhere close to the plate.
Lee was charged with three runs on nine hits in six innings. He has allowed nine or more hits in three of his last five starts.
The Phillies, meanwhile, sunk to 15 games back of the Washington Nationals in the National League East. It’s their largest deficit since facing a 15 ½ game deficit on Sept. 15, 2006.
“I feel the same way I did when we left,” Manuel said before the game. “I feel like we have to win some games. I look at it like we have to win some games all the time. Yeah, we have to win some games. Yeah, that would help.”
The Phils have lost 11 of their last 12 games.


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