A Phillies ballpark staffer noted that the impeccable weather for Monday’s home opener was the finest since the red pinstripes greeted the 1993 season. “Is it an omen,” he asked.
That’s very doubtful. Forget about the playoffs. If this punchless team were to go .500, that would be amazing.
The only thing wrong with a perfect, sun-splashed afternoon was the Phillies. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t the offense, which could only muster three hits against Boston’s Clay Buchholz, who has great stuff but no heart, according to Curt Schilling.
Cole Hamels had another miserable April start. King Cole gave up four home runs for just the second time in his enviable career.
“It definitely didn’t go the way we envisioned,” Hamels said. “A lot of it was my fault.”
Each of the four homers Hamels surrendered were the result of pitches that missed their spot and drifted into the Red Sox hitter’s happy zone.
“Cole didn’t have his command,” Ryne Sandberg said.
But the rest of the team was flat as the first fastball Dustin Pedroia clubbed into the leftfield seats off Hamels.
“It’s just one game,” Ben Revere said. “There’s 161 more.”
How much better will it be? Will a clarion call by Sandberg change anything?
“It’s just going to be difficult for the Phillies this season,” a NL scout said. “They have little power. You look at the aging bats they have that once produced and they will miss Jimmy Rollins, who still has something left in the tank.”
Rollins hit a game-winning homer for the Dodgers in their home opener. There was no such power for the Phillies. Ryan Howard had the Phillies lone extra-base hit, a double, which broke up Buchholz’s no-hitter in the fourth inning.
“We just have to dig deeper,” Revere said. “I know we have the personnel to win games.”
But where will the power come from? The outfield as presently constituted is extraordinarily weak. Revere and centerfielder Odubel Herrera are speedy, singles hitters. Grady Sizemore, who started in right, has become just that as he is in the twilight of his career.
The Phillies must hope that the injured Domonic Brown returns to the lineup soon and somehow the enigmatic one-time big prospect finds the stroke he had two-years ago.
Or perhaps Sandberg will give disregarded Darin Ruf a chance? Sure, Ruf has not come through often with runners in scoring position during the limited chances he has received but he has some sorely needed pop.
The Phillies also need to work the count. Buchholz averaged just over ten pitches an inning over the first four frames..
“They have to figure out some way to score some runs,” a NL scout said. “Otherwise, they’re going to be really difficult to watch. When Hamels and David Buchanan give the team a chance to win, somebody has to make something happen at the plate or it could be a really long season for the Phillies.”