Baseball is sometimes a hard sport with which to figure out the "why." What is easy. There are a billion different statistics that break down and quantify the "what."
"That's baseball," is what they say, and "that's baseball" is what they've been saying around here for much of the past week. There was more of it tonight. Prior to the game today, much of the talk centered around the offense, which was hitting just .216 and averaging fewer than four runs per game for the past six games. But on a night where the offense scored early, the Phillies still managed to lose. A bullpen that has been nothing short of spectacular all season gave up a lead in the eighth inning for a second straight night. Chad Durbin gave up a game-tying hit in the eighth for the second straight night, this time in the form of a two-run double to Jeff Kent. Clay Condrey gave up the game-winning home run to Nomar Garciaparra, but the game was lost well before that. The Phillies scored six runs early on three two-run home runs, but were scoreless in the final seven innings. Joe Blanton, who was dominant in his previous two starts, struggled through five innings and gave the bullpen four innings to eat.
When it's not one thing, it's another. Last night, it was a little bit of everything.
The Phillies are now tied with the Mets for first place in the National League East. They need to win tonight to avoid a four-game sweep. It would be just their second sweep of the season. The last came in June against the Angels.
Ryan Howard hit his 33rd homer. Jayson Werth and Greg Dobbs also connected. But that was the extent of the offense. Manny Ramirez was once against Manny Ramirez, hitting a home run off of Blanton in the third.
"Basically, I just didn't have it tonight," Blanton said.
Durbin, who has been among the most-used relievers in the game this season, said he doesn't feel fatigued afterward. He lamented his walk to Juan Pierre with no out in the eighth, which put the tying run on base.
“I’ll probably scare the person in my room tonight yelling at myself,” Durbin said, “but in all seriousness, you have to take it in perspective -- What did I do and how did I control my energy tonight? -- and get better next time.”