Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels dueled with Mets’ knuckleballer R.A. Dickey for seven innings in game 1 as Dickey carried a perfect game through five inning before issuing a 1 out walk in the sixth. He lost his no-hitter in the seventh as the Phils broke onto the scoreboard with a run, on 3 hits, and shortlived 1-0 lead. As testimony to the fact that even aces make an occasional mistake and need offensive support, Hamels gave up a tying homer to recent call-up and pinch hitter Val Pascucci. For Pascucci, it was his 1st MLB homer. Manuel pinch hit for Hamels in the eighth (Hunter Pence struck out looking) as reliever Brad Lidge took over in the Mets’ eighth. One out, a single and a stolen base later, 3rd baseman David Wright solved Lidge for an RBI double and a Mets win. Two Met relievers then gave up a single and a walk each in both the eighth and ninth innings but the Phils left all 4 runners stranded. In game 2, the Phils jumped on starter Dillon Gee for a 3-0 lead with 2 runs in the second and another in the third. But then manager Manuel opted to lift starter Joe Blanton after 2 innings and 24 pitches to give other bullpen hands some work before the playoffs. David Herndon, who has seen plenty of work over the past 10 days, gave up a hit, walked 2 as the Mets benefited by a rare Hunter Pence fielding error by scoring 5 runs in their third inning off of Herndon and Kyle Kendrick in the third and another run off of Kendrick in the fourth. The Phillies offense went silent the rest of the way as Gee finished six innings holding the lead. Three Met relievers held the Phils to a ninth inning walk and a base hit as the Mets swept the doubleheader from the Phils by 2-1 and 6-3 on flat offense, Manuel’s pitching change foible.
Both the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals split their Friday and Saturday games with Washington and the Chicago Cubs respectively as the Braves’ NL Wild Card lead remained at 2 games. The Braves magic number is 3 (combination of Braves wins or Cards’ losses) as both teams have games left to play.
I shall spill no further ink decrying two more embarrassing losses. We’ll just leave you with comments from other sources. The AP game recap on the doubleheader for Yahoo sports notes:
With nothing left to play for in the regular season, the Philadelphia Phillies are playing as if they have nothing left.
For the first time since Terry Francona was manager, the Phillies are sitting on an eight-game losing streak as a doubleheader against the Mets that played more like a pair of split-squad spring training games went south…
The Phillies lost again…. It’s becoming a little bit of a trend, and a very frustrating one at that.
Rewind to last Saturday, the night the Phillies clinched the NL East. There was a huge celebration
Rewind a little further, and before the Phils clinched, they were so dominant that things were almost boring. They were so far ahead of everyone else that there was absolutely no doubt that they would clinch the division and home field and it was a virtual impossibility for them not to clinch both.
It got to a point where the regular season games didn’t feel all that important…
There seems to be a collective groan among Phillies fans who are worried about the team. But here’s the thing: There is nothing to worry about. The Phils’ current rut should have no effect on their performance in the NLDS.
If you’re looking for a silver lining, it’s that Michael Schwimer, Mike Stutes, and Justin De Fratus, the three headline members of the class of young, hard-throwing righties who will make up the bulk of next year’s bullpen, combined for four perfect innings to close out the game [game 2].
“The Phils’ current rut should have no effect on their performance in the NLDS” — Wish I could believe that! It’s inevitable that the other playoff teams will not be intimidated by Phillies aces and will see them as eminantly beatable, unless they re-establish a team-to-beat credibility. For the Phils, it’s gonna take reestablishment of offensive presence.
On Sunday, ace Roy Halladay tries to put an end to the Phillies 8 game skid, but needs offensive help. He opposes Mike Pelfrey who is 1-2 in 5 starts against the Phils in 2011. The Phils then travel to Atlanta to play the final 3 games of the regular season on Monday through Wednesday against the Braves. The Phils’ skid sets up a situation where these games could be big for both teams. For the Phils, they will need to re-establish a team-to-beat mojo before the playoffs while these games may well be crucial for the Braves making the playoffs at all. All of MLB’s playoff teams will then have at least 2 days off (Sept. 29 and 30) before the NLDS games begin.
For all of Sunday’s scheduled games throughout MLB, click here.