The Phils played their fourth extra inning game in 7 days on Sunday with the same result as the other 3…an inability to piece together just one late run or for the bullpen to extend it and give the offense another chance. After opening a series with the Cardinals on Tuesday, the Phils battled through 10 innings of a 1-1 pitchers duel. Then came Edubray Ramos, Casey Fien and Luis Garcia in the 11th. Final score…8-1. Wednesday was a bit more of a slug fest as the game went to extras tied at 5. Enter Ramos again. Final…7-6. Aaron Nola and Mark Leiter Jr. came out and pitched spectacularly the next 2 days, avoided extra innings and securing back to back wins. Ben Lively finally met his match and ended his streak of quality starts as he was roughed up by the D-backs on Saturday. Jeremy Hellickson was back in form on Sunday holding the D-backs to 1 run and sending the Phils to another extra inning game. Enter Ramos…
There were a few players who performed well during the course of the week. The highlight was Lively’s first career HR (wasted in a less than stellar pitching performance). Howie Kendrick missed a few games but when he was in, he was raking, going 8-11 with 2 walks. Freddy Galvis also continued his hot June. Since moving into the 2-hole, Galvis has been on a bit of a tear lately. Unfortunately, the middle of the lineup disappeared again and getting on base does no good if there is no one to get you home…or if you run through stop signs like Odubel “Brain Cramp” Hererra did this week. Tommy Joseph did have just 4 hits this week but still produced 25% of the teams runs…which says A LOT about the teams inability to produce runs. There’s also this… 4 starting pitchers had a hit this week while 4 position players had just 2. The offense certainly has it’s moments but they are too few and way too far between.
Well, the bright side of things is that as long as your name isn’t Edubray Ramos or Casey Fien (please remind me why we traded for this clown?), it was not actually a bad week. Nola and Leiter both had great performances, Hellickson had back to back quality starts and gave up just 2 runs in 13 IP however, the lack of run support cost him wins in both. Ramos has conceded 11 runs in 8.2 innings in June and needs to be on his way back to Lehigh Valley…soon. Likewise for Fien (7 runs in 6 innings in June). Neither can be counted on in any situation and there has to be better options somewhere. Finally, the biggest issue currently is Pat Neshek. Yes, THAT Pat Neshek…he of the 0.59 ERA. There seems to be some “miscommunication” coming out between the player and manager as it relates to his inability or unwillingness to pitch on back to back nights or for multiple innings or as a Closer (where he belongs right now). There have been multiple occasions in the last week where Pete Mackanin has come out and said it was Neshek’s call and Neshek denied making the statements or gave a completely different story. Someone is full of **** and needs to be called out on it.
Around the N.L. East
Nationals– It was an up and down week for the Nats with a few offensive explosions. In the end, they finished the week 3-3 but still have a 9 game lead. While their lead has fluctuated, it hasn’t been by more than a game or two and none of the other teams have been able to get hot enough to make a real dent. Barring major catastrophe, the Nats should coast through the 2nd half of the season…although they won’t be able to pad their lead by way of the Phils. The Nats finish a homestand with 4 games against the Cubs in a rematch from the playoffs last year. With the Cubs battling back in the Central and trying to overtake the Brewers, this could be a fun series to watch. Washington will finish the week with a quick road trip to St. Louis who despite a sub-.500 record are still in the hunt in the Central as well.
Braves– The Braves were able to gain some ground with a 5-2 week but still have a lot of work to do to get back in the hunt as we head towards the break. After taking 3 of 4 from the Giants and 2 of 3 from the Brewers, the Braves sit 9 games out in the East. Heading out west for 3 games against the Padres and A’s may help even more. With both teams struggling, the Braves will look to inch even closer as we head into July.
Marlins– Things started out well for the Fish as they took 2 of 3 from the Nationals at home. The Cubs then came to town for a 4 game set which ended in a split. An extra win would have gone a long way. Instead, they gained just a half game on the Nats. With the quickly fading Mets (at home) and the not exactly a juggernaut 1st place Brewers (in Milwaukee) this week, the Marlins will look to also stay afloat in the East. A winning week could help get them to single digits if the Nats help but they need to hold up their end first.
Mets– Things started rough for the Mets after being swept out of LA in convincing fashion. However, the trip up north to San Fran went much better after sweeping a weekend series with the Giants. The Mets will make a stop in Miami on their way back to new York where they will get their shot at the Phils. As they continue to battle the Braves and Marlins in the middle of the standings, this week could prove pivotal in trying to move back to the 2 spot they held just last week.
After the Phils wrap up a wraparound series in Arizona on Monday afternoon, they will head to Seattle for a quick 2 game set. They’ll make a final stop in New York for 3 with the Mets before heading home to close out the first half (mercifully). As bad as this team has been, it’s hard to believe but it’s not 100% doom and gloom. They have lost 19 1 run games this season. Some have been pitching issues, some have been hitting, some have been both. They’ve also lost 8 games in extra innings and 8 more on walkoffs. This team has battled in most cases but need to find a way to scratch out a late run or just hold a lead late. As the trade deadline approaches, expect to see some changes and hopefully a few more fresh faces who can inject a bit of life for the 2nd half. Or…maybe it will be more of the same and the 2nd half will be just as painful to watch as the first. Time will tell.