Jimmy Rollins hurt his ankle in New York on April 8, returning to second base on a pickoff play where the throw never came. The Phils beat the Mets that night, their ninth in a row against their rivals from New York. Rollins has mostly been sidelined since and, after losing again last night, the Phils have suddenly dropped four straight to the Mets.
While the fans may be at least a little sympathetic about the Phillies’ struggles without Rollins, the standings most certainly won’t. After a better start this year, the Phils are in danger of ending the month with a miserable record similar to what the fans remember from the past couple of Aprils.
The Phils need Rollins back for a lot of reasons, one of which is to get the bat of struggling Eric Bruntlett out of the lineup. Bruntlett is 1-for-his-last-13 with a single and on-basing .256 for the season (update: Phils can need Rollins back all they want, but they put Rollins and Snelling on the DL today and called up Brad Harman and TJ Bohn. That there is a non-trivial problem).
The Phillies lost to the Mets on Saturday, falling 4-2 to drop to 8-10 on the season.
Jamie Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, both doubles. He struck out one and lowered his ERA to 4.79 on the year.
Jose Reyes hit Moyer’s first pitch of the game down the left field line for a double. Ryan Church was next and singled on a line drive off the glove of Taguchi in right, but Reyes held second. Reyes stole third with David Wright at the plate before Wright split the gap in right-center with a double that scored both runners and put the Mets up 2-0. Carlos Beltran popped to Utley for the first out before Carlos Delgado moved Wright to third with a ground out to first base. Angel Pagan grounded to third to end the frame.
Brian Schneider started the second with a single, but Luis Castillo followed and hit into a double-play. Pitcher Oliver Perez singled to left before Reyes flew to left for the third out.
Wright singled with one out in the third. With Beltran batting, Moyer picked Wright off and Howard threw to Bruntlett who applied the tag. Beltran grounded back to the pitcher to set the Mets down.
Moyer threw a 1-2-3 fourth.
He walked Perez on four pitches with one out in the fifth. Reyes flew to center for the second out before Church moved Perez to second with a single. Wright looped a ball into center. Werth was playing really deep, but charged and made a diving catch to end the inning. Werth is playing really deep in center field — that’s a longer run for him than you would expect on a ball hit like that.
Moyer threw a 1-2-3 sixth.
Madson started the seventh with the Phils down 2-0. He got Brian Schneider to ground to first for the first out before Luis Castillo drew a walk. Lefty Endy Chavez hit for the pitcher and grounded to first for the second out, with Reyes moving to second. Reyes homered to right-center to put the Mets up 4-0 before Church grounded to second to end the frame.
Madson returned to throw a 1-2-3 eighth.
Durbin started the ninth with the Phils down 4-2. He walked Schneider with one out and Castillo moved him to second with a single. Lefty Marlon Anderson hit for the pitcher and hit into a double-play to set the Mets down. Durbin’s ERA dropped to 0.69 with the scoreless inning.
Madson threw 22 pitches and Durbin 17.
The Phillies lineup against lefty Oliver Perez went (1) Taguchi (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Feliz (7) Coste (8) Bruntlett. Coste catches Bruntlett. Taguchi plays right against the lefty. Werth in center. I’d rather see Werth leading off that Taguchi.
Down 2-0 in the first, the Phils went 1-2-3.
Howard and Burrell struck out to start the second before Feliz walked. Coste moved Feliz to second with a single to left, but Bruntlett popped to first for the third out.
Taguchi singled with one out in the third, but Werth followed and flew to right for the second out. Utley walked, moving Taguchi to second, but Howard struck out to end the inning.
Coste walked with two outs in the fourth. Bruntlett was next and hit a ball hard in between third and short. Wright dove to his right to spear the ball and threw to second to force Coste to end the inning.
Taguchi singled with one out in the fifth. Werth struck out before Utley singled into center, putting men on first and third for Howard with two outs. Howard flew to left.
Feliz walked with one out in the sixth. Coste hit a ground ball to short and the Mets forced Feliz at second, but did not get the double-play. Coste went to second on a wild pitch before Bruntlett walked, putting men on first and second with two down for the pitcher’s spot. Rollins hit for Moyer and grounded to first to end the inning.
Utley homered to right with two outs in the seventh, his third home run in three days. It made the score 4-1. Howard struck out for the third out.
The Phils finally got their chance in the eighth. Burrell led off with a walk and Feliz followed with a ball hit slowly to third. Wright threw to first for the first out with Burrell moving to second. With righty Joe Smith on the mound, Dobbs hit for Coste. The Mets brought in lefty Pedro Feliciano, but Dobbs stayed in the game and blooped a single into center. Burrell went to third, but when Bruntlett followed with a walk it loaded the bases with one out for the pitcher’s spot. Ruiz hit for Madson and the Mets pulled Feliciano for righty Aaron Heilman. Ruiz stayed in the game and blooped one into left. It looked like Pagan started late and the ball fell in front of him. Everyone moved up a base with Burrell scoring to make it 4-2. Jenkins hit for Taguchi against the righty Heilman and struck out swinging 3-2. Werth struck out swinging 2-2 to end the inning.
Jenkins strikeout hurt the most with bases loaded and one out. The Phils had a chance there and just didn’t get it done. Dobbs hitting for Coste in the inning strikes me a little odd — I’d rather have Coste against the righty with Dobbs still available than Dobbs against the lefty. Probably doesn’t matter if you can’t hit for Bruntlett because there’s nobody else to play short. If there is someone else on the team that can play short I think you have to hit for Bruntlett there. Even if you have to leave Bruntlett in the game, and I think you do, I still think you have to let Coste hit for himself. Manuel also could have hit Jenkins for Ruiz after Heilman left the game and let Taguchi hit for himself instead of having Jenkins hit for him. Manuel got guys up with a chance to put the Phils ahead and they just couldn’t do it, but partly they got the opportunity they did cause Dobbs got a hit off a lefty and Ruiz got a hit off a righty.
The Phils went 1-2-3 in the ninth.
Taguchi was 2-for-4.
Werth was 0-for-5, struck out three times and left five men on base.
Utley was 2-for-4 with a walk and a home run.
Howard was 0-for-5 and struck out three times.
Burrell was 0-for-4 with a walk and struck out three times.
Feliz 0-for-2 and walked twice.
Coste 1-for-2 with a walk.
Bruntlett was 0-for-2 and walked twice.
Adam Eaton (0-0, 4.12) faces righty Mike Pelfrey (2-0, 1.50) tonight. Pelfrey has made two starts on the season, both of them good, and one against the Phillies. He faced the Phils on April 9 and allowed two runs over five innings.