Hey now, was that so hard? Coming off a disastrous series versus the Braves last week in which the Phillies lost 2 of 3 games, it didn’t feel too good seeing the NL Central division-leading Cincinnati Reds next on the schedule for four games. Fate, it seems, doesn’t come without a sense of humor as the Reds turned out to be just what the doctor ordered for the struggling home team.
Cole Hamels pitched well enough to shut out the Reds over 7.2 innings, albeit getting into a few jams along the way. Cole gave up six hits while striking out three and walking three. After giving up a 2 out double to Joey Votto in the top of the eighth inning, Jose Contreras came in to relieve Hamels. After walking Scott Rolen, Contreras was able to coax Jonny Gomez into routine grounder to end the threat. In the top of the ninth, J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge combined to shut down the Reds in order to complete the game and the sweep of the Reds. It was the first time the Phillies swept the Cincinnati Reds in a four game series since 1975 at the Vet.
Offensively, it wasn’t a pretty picture again. After being dominated last night by rookie starter Travis Wood, who came within one inning of a perfect game, the Phillies struggled again this afternoon, mustering just 1 run on 4 hits against Reds’ starter Matt Maloney. The lone run in the game once again came off the bat of Jimmy Rollins, who singled in the 3rd inning to score Carlos Ruiz from second base.
There were two plays involving fan interference during the game, one of which involved Jayson Werth again. Werth recently apologized for chastising a fan during the game on Thursday night, which was caused by a fan catching a foul ball in the stands over Werth’s glove . Both instances today involved fans reaching over the outfield fence to catch balls from Ruiz and Werth, and both were ruled ground-rule doubles.
While no one can complain about a home-series 4 game sweep against a division leader, obvious problems remain for the Phillies. Injuries certainly take a toll on a team, however, at some point, someone has to step up to spark the remaining firepower this lineup still possesses with Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Rollins and Werth.
It would be great to feel as if this series was a sign of things to come. But unless the batters start pulling their weight like the starting rotation has, one has to fear that this great moment of the season will be all but forgotten soon after the All-Star break.