Tyler Cloyd, Phillies thumped by Rockies, 5-3
THREE PITCHERS who have started games for the Phillies this season took the mound in three different ballparks last night.
Three months and 1 week since undergoing shoulder surgery, Roy Halladay attempted to reboot his arm in Lakewood, N.J. Jonathan Pettibone tried to bring his rookie season a step closer to returning to Citizens Bank Park in a rehab start in Allentown.
In South Philly, Tyler Cloyd jumped back into the major league rotation for the first time in 2 months. The righthanded Cloyd (2-3), who had a 4.89 ERA at Triple A Lehigh Valley, took the place of John Lannan, whose season was declared over with a knee injury earlier yesterday afternoon.
Oh, and Cole Hamels (5-13) leads the major leagues in losses, if you pay attention to that sort of thing.
Needless to say, the 2013 season hasn't gone as planned for Ruben Amaro Jr. and Co., who allotted $71.5 million to a starting rotation that was supposed to be the team's strength when spring training got underway 6 months ago.
In the last month, the Phillies' rotation has been the worst in all of baseball.
Cloyd was ambushed by the Colorado Rockies, giving up three runs in the first inning and five in his first three frames as the Phillies lost, 5-3, last night. The Phils finished the night with three hits, not exactly the kind of output a team with shaky starting pitching can afford.
"Pitching kind of sets the tone for the game," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Being down five runs after three innings is not always the best thing for an offense."
Cloyd, who was likely doing nothing other than making a spot start until either Pettibone or Halladay is declared ready, rebounded a bit in not allowing a run in his final three innings of work. But it hardly helped the rotation's ugly second-half ERA.
Since the Phillies returned from the All-Star break, the starting rotation has a 5.79 ERA in 29 games. No other rotation in baseball has an ERA above 5.00; the Toronto Blue Jays' starters, who sport the second-worst ERA, were nearly a full run lower at 4.82 entering a doubleheader against the Yankees yesterday.
"Cliff Lee was an All-Star this year - he's pitched well," Sandberg said when asked about his slumping rotation. "Cole Hamels has pitched better than his record. Kyle Kendrick, he's had some good games. Pettibone was showing some quality and filled in nicely when he came up. And we had the injury with Doc , so those were big shoes to fill right there."
Not surprisingly, the Phillies' horrid starting pitching hasn't yielded many wins.
Following last night's loss, their first since winning back-to-back games for the first time in a month, the Phils fell to 7-22 since the All-Star break. It's the worst record in the major leagues.
Cloyd allowed three of the first four batters he faced to reach base.
The big blow came courtesy of Troy Tulowitzki, who hit a two-run home run so deep into the leftfield seats that leftfielder Domonic Brown barely blinked, let alone jog or turn around to catch up to the ball. The home run was the second in as many games for Tulowitzki in the first two of a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park.
Cloyd gave up another run on three hits in the second inning and then served up another titanic home run in the third, a two-out blast to center from catcher Wilin Rosario, to put the Phillies in a 5-0 hole.
"My command's the biggest thing," Cloyd said. "The first three innings, everything was off."
"It seemed like his pitches were catching a lot of the plate and they were up in the zone a little bit," Sandberg said. "He put up three zeroes after that . . . We needed some innings out of Cloyd and he put the three zeroes up there, which helped the bullpen and it gave us a chance to come back."
The Phils rallied in the bottom half of the third. An error by Todd Helton, a base hit by Chase Utley and some daring running from Carlos Ruiz on a shallow sac fly from Brown accounted for a trio of runs that cut the deficit to 5-3.
But the inning was just a blip on an otherwise strong outing from Colorado lefty Jorge De La Rosa. The Rockies' starter allowed just one baserunner in five of his first six innings.
The Phils' best chance to rally came in the seventh, when John Mayberry Jr. followed a one-out hit from Cody Asche with a walk, chasing De La Rosa from the game. But pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen, hitless in his last 14 at-bats, flew out and Jimmy Rollins, in a 0-for-16 slump, grounded out to end the threat, stranding both runners on base. Rollins hit a bullet down the third-base line, but Rockies rookie Nolan Arenado stabbed at it and threw off-line to Helton at first. Helton swiped at Rollins as the Phils' leadoff hitter scampered up the base line.
Helton didn't appear to make the tag, and admitted after the game that he didn't.
"I didn't tag him," Helton said. "I tried to tag him."
Sandberg didn't argue because Rollins didn't protest the play.
"That was the biggest thing - Jimmy had no argument," Sandberg said. "He told me later he felt something over there on his back. From my angle, I just saw a throw that was slightly up the line with a swipe tag. I based it on Jimmy's reaction."
Tonight, the Phillies will attempt to bounce back when they send Lee to the mound.
Lee has a 5.04 ERA in four starts since the break.
On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21