Marlins hand Phillies 10th shutout loss of season
ON A NIGHT that began with a who's who of former Phillies from the turn of the century taking the field to honor the franchise's newly crowned all-time hits king, Jimmy Rollins, starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez collected the first hit of his 9-year career.
Hernandez, who entered the game hitless in his first 40 big-league at-bats, singled to rightfield to lead off the third inning. Hernandez is paid to pitch, however, and he fared well on the mound after a shaky first inning.
For the first time in a Phillies uniform, Hernandez managed to pitch six innings in consecutive starts. It marked the ninth straight game a Phillies starting pitcher went at least six innings.
It's that kind of sturdy starting pitching that is often the hallmark of winning teams, which the Phillies had been for the last week. But for most the season's first 3 months, they've also struggled to score runs consistently, especially on their own turf.
Hernandez' six sharp innings, like Cole Hamels' effort on Saturday, went to waste, as the Phillies fell to the Miami Marlins, 4-0, last night.
After winning a season-high five in a row, the Phillies, clinging to hope in a poor National League East despite being in last place, have lost three consecutive games.
"Now we look to change that tomorrow - this one is behind us," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We have to do something about that to keep that momentum and keep that going . . . it starts tomorrow, trying to get back to the win column."
The Phillies (34-41) are 6 games behind the first-place Washington Nationals.
Even with a strong showing through Atlanta and St. Louis in the last week, the Phillies need a lot of things to go right to enter back into any kind of race in the next 3 months. Being able to take advantage of their hitter-friendly ballpark would be a start.
Instead, the Phillies were shut out at Citizens Bank Park for their second consecutive home game. They've been blanked in seven of their last 25 games in their own ballpark.
"I don't have an explanation for that, I really don't," Sandberg said. "But that's something that needs to change. An evening like this, conducive to hitting, we need to do something about that. That was the positive thing we had on the road - getting out ahead and scoring runs."
Miami righthander Nathan Eovaldi might have had the indignity of serving up Hernandez' first career hit, but he was more than capable of handling every other person in the lineup not named Cody Asche.
Asche went 3-for-3 in his fourth game since returning from a monthlong stay on the DL. The remaining seven starting position players in the lineup were a combined 2-for-24.
"We had hits, we just didn't have hits with runners in scoring position," said Ryan Howard, who had two hard-hit flyouts and a single off Eovaldi. "I hit one to left, Marlon 's ball to center, the curveball I hit in my first at-bat. We hit some balls pretty good, just couldn't find any ground."
Hernandez, who had failed to pitch at least six innings in four of his first 12 starts this season, put the Phillies in a 2-0 hole minutes after the seats from the Jimmy Rollins pregame celebration were cleared from the field.
After giving up a one-out single to Derek Dietrich, Hernandez hit Giancarlo Stanton with a pitch and then served up a two-run double to Casey McGehee. But Hernandez allowed only one hit over the next five innings before handing a 2-0 game over to the bullpen.
"Roberto hung in there and put some zeros up," Sandberg said. "He gave us a chance to chip away at the two-run lead."
Instead, the Phillies' bats failed to complement their arms. Phillies starting pitchers have a 2.76 ERA in 22 games in June. They've allowed two runs or fewer in 11 of those 22 games.
But no matter how well you pitch, you need at least some run support.
The Phillies have scored two runs or fewer in eight of their 22 games this month.
The Phillies have been shut out 10 times this season. Only the San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays (11 each) have been blanked more often.
But their struggles in home, in particular, where they've been shut out eight times, makes one wonder whether they're playing tight in their own park.
"I don't know if it was pressing today," Howard said. "We hit a couple balls hard, and we just didn't get that hit today. Sometimes, it just happens. I know it's kind of gone off-and-on during the season, so it's always going to be a situation or an issue. With what happened last week, how we've been playing, you're going to have those days."
The eight shutouts at Citizens Bank Park this season are the most for the Phillies at home in a single season since 1990, when they were shut out eight times at Veterans Stadium.
The 2014 Phillies, however, still have 43 more home games on their schedule.
On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21