Results tagged ‘ Jose Fernandez ’

It Gets Harder from Here

Jose FernandezThis is the challenge the Phillies face tonight.

Following four consecutive losses by four or more runs, the Phillies must step into the batter’s box tonight at Citizens Bank Park and try to beat Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, who went 1-0 with a 0.50 ERA in three starts against them last season, striking out 16 batters in 18 innings and holding them to a .359 OPS.

Fernandez has been dominant in his first two starts this year: eight hits, one run, two walks and 17 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings.

If the Phillies can’t crack the Hernandez code they will fall to 3-7. But it’s early, right? I’ve been reminded the 2007 Phillies opened the season 4-11 before winning the National League East. But a few things to remember there: the Phillies needed to finish 13-4 and the Mets needed to finish 5-12 to make it happen. It also took the Phillies until May 16 to get back to .500, and that team had the best offense in the National League and three MVP-caliber players in their prime in Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. This team can’t say that. Perhaps when Cole Hamels returns the Phillies can say they have a formidable 1-2-3 punch atop their rotation, but they still need nights when they can string together a bunch of hits.

Ask Cliff Lee, who has had some of the worst run support in baseball since resigning with the Phillies in Dec. 2010.

The Phillies have hit just .243 with a .317 on-base percentage since they scored 14 runs Opening Day against the Rangers. They have hit just .203 with runners in scoring position in that stretch. But this has been a team effort. In their last four games, the pitching staff has a 5.91 ERA, which doesn’t include the 10 unearned runs they have allowed. The bullpen has allowed 60 percent (6 of 10) of its inherited runners to score this season, which is the second-worst mark in baseball.

I’ve heard countless baseball people say pennants can’t be won in April, but they can be lost. The Phillies entered the season with a very small margin for error. They don’t want to bury themselves too deep too quickly, but a 3-7 start would have them on the way.

Sloppy Times, Sign of Times?

Ryne SandbergMaybe the Phillies need more pregame drills and pitching talks.

It’s doubtful actually. The Phillies are on the field before every game, working on fundamentals. They’re constantly talking to their pitchers about how to attack hitters. But their last three games have been a nightmare for a manager that stressed fundamentals and clean play throughout Spring Training. The Phillies have allowed 10 unearned runs in their last three games to fall to 3-5. They lost their home opener Tuesday, 10-3, and their second home game last night, 9-4.

Elias Sports Bureau said it is the first time the Phillies have lost their first two home games allowing nine or more runs in each game since 1929 at Baker Bowl.

A closer look at some ugly numbers:

  • The Phillies lead baseball with 10 unearned runs. No other team in baseball has more than seven (Padres and Marlins).
  • Elias Sports Bureau found it is the first time the Phillies have allowed 10 or more unearned runs in three consecutive games since they allowed 10 from July 26-29, 2008. Interestingly, the Phillies went 3-0 in those games while they went 0-3 in these three.
  • They are fourth in baseball with nine errors. Only the Dodgers, Marlins and Rangers have more with 11.
  • Since they scored 14 runs on Opening Day, the Phillies are averaging 3.57 runs per game, which is 21st in baseball.
  • They are 25th with a .197 average with runners in scoring position since Opening Day.

You hate to say the ninth game of the season is a must win, but if the Phillies lose tonight with Cliff Lee on the mound, A.J. Burnett will be asked to outpitch Marlins ace Jose Fernandez tomorrow night. Fernandez went 1-0 with a 0.50 ERA in three starts last season against the Phillies, striking out 16 batters in 18 innings and holding them to a .359 OPS. Fernandez has been dominant in his first two starts this season: eight hits, one run, two walks and 17 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings. If the Phillies play anywhere close to the way they’ve played the last three games against Fernandez tomorrow night they’ve got no chance.

“It’s possible early-season stuff, but we’re still in the process of ironing that stuff out and continuing to work at it and stress it, that’s for sure,” Ryne Sandberg said.

Howard Is Back

Ryan HowardThat didn’t take long.

Ryan Howard received a cortisone injection into his left knee Sunday in Philadelphia, but he is back in the lineup tonight against the Marlins in Miami. A MRI exam Monday revealed inflammation and changes in his meniscus. The Phillies said yesterday they were hopeful Howard would respond positively to the shot, although they could not be certain it would.

The Phillies face Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez tonight. He has thrown 13 scoreless innings in two starts against the Phillies this season. Can the Phillies finally find a way to score against him tonight? If not, the sad sack Marlins will win just their second series of the season.

Here is tonight’s lineup:

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Chase Utley, 2B
  3. Michael Young, 3B
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, RF
  6. Domonic Brown, LF
  7. Ben Revere, CF
  8. Erik Kratz, C
  9. Tyler Cloyd, P
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