Runs have been as rare as empty seats at Citizens Bank Ballpark for the Phillies of late. The NL East leaders have scored just nine times in their last five games, including a season-high four-game losing streak that was halted last night.
Charlie Manuel has no idea how to shake the slump.
“I don’t know,” Manuel said when asked about how to solve the hitting woes.
But the Phillies skipper has an idea why the Phillies are having trouble. Manuel believes the wrath of injuries to starters Chase Utley, Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz have weakened the squad’s offensive attack. The reserves just haven’t gotten the job done.
“There’s a reason bench players are bench players,” Manuel said. “If you put one in the lineup, you can get away with it. If you put two in the lineup, you might get away with it but when you put three, four or five out there, you start getting into trouble. We just don’t have (all of) our regular players in there. The guys we pay money to hit.”
The only regular hitting above .300 is Placido Polanco (.331). Raul Ibanez (.225) and Ruiz (.216) aren’t pulling their weight. Ryan Howard, who is averaging just under an RBI a game, appears to be pressing.
“We’ll start hitting again,” Manuel said. “It’s only a matter of time.”
Perhaps that time will be when Utley returns. Manuel believes Utley, who is getting in playing shape down in Clearwater, needs between 70 and 80 at bats in the minors before he returns to the big club. Utley is halfway there. However, his return still is not imminent.
“Until he comes back we have to find a way to score some runs,” Manuel said.
3 things we saw at the ballpark ...
Final: Phils 2, Rockies 1
1 No margin for error. Cole Hamels pitched as advertised ... like an ace. Hamels didn’t have much of a choice as the struggling Phillies offense gave him just two runs. Still, Hamels’ explosive fastball and devastating change helped him strike out the meat of Colorado’s potent order in the fourth. He struck out eight and walked just one in eight innings.
2 Just enough. The Phils drew first blood in the fifth with the help of a hit batsman and a passed ball. Wilson Valdez singled home the first run, while a wild pitch set up Jimmy Rollins’ game-winning sacrifice fly in the eighth.
3 Defensive minded. The Phillies’ defense helped make up for a lack of offense. John Mayberry nailed a runner at third base in the first, Carlos Ruiz cut down a runner trying to steal second and Placido Polanco saved a run in the seventh with a diving stop of a Troy Tulowitzki bullet.
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