Monday, September 15, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Phillies blanked by Marlins, 5-0, to extend losing streak to six games

Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)
Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)
Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels. (Wilfredo Lee/AP) Gallery: Marlins 5, Phillies 0

MIAMI - Unlike football, basketball and hockey, the baseball season coincides with summer, when the television entertainment options are limited.

The major networks go on hiatus with their usual programming. Summertime is chock full of reruns or bad reality shows.

Last night at Marlins Park, you could argue the Phillies were a combination of both. Not-so-must-see-TV.

Cole Hamels started a game and the Phillies lost.

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    For the first time in nearly 2 months, Hamels wasn't great. But the Phillies' offense once again managed to be worse than the Phillies' best pitcher, even on a bad nightfor him.

    The Phillies struck out in seven of their first 14 at-bats en route to a 5-0 defeat at the hands of the Miami Marlins.

    It was the 11th time Ryne Sandberg's team has been shut out in 84 games (and the ninth time in the last 55). It ties the most shutouts for a Phillies team over its first 84 games since 1969. Only one team in baseball, the Padres, with 12, has been shut out more times.

    Only the 1941 Phillies (12 shutouts) were blanked more often in their first 84 games.

    "From what's going on in the dugout, guys want to do it,'' Sandberg said. "Maybe it's a pressing situation. But we need somebody to get it going. We need everyone to feed off of someone coming through.''

    Sandberg said he'd likely call his team together today. If he does, it would be the third team meeting in 2 months.

    But there can't be much to say at this point.

    The latest loss extended the Phillies' streak to six games. They have lost 10 of 12 games since their season-high five-game winning streak 2 weeks ago.

    The Phillies (36-48) are a season-worst 12 games under .500. They have the third-worst record in the National League (behind Colorado and Arizona) and the fourth worst in baseball (among AL teams, only Houston is worse than the Phillies).

    The last-place Phillies are 10 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.

    "Anyone who wants to compete at the highest level wants to win,'' Hamels said, asked if he felt his team was capable of turning the season around. "You know what category of players it takes. The style of baseball it takes to win. You can't keep trying to scratch by. Especially the reason why we won - we pitched, but at the same time, we put up tons of runs. And so, we're not blind to it. It's not happening.''

    After going at least seven innings in 10 straight starts - the longest of his career - Hamels struggled with command. He had more walks (four) than strikeouts (three) for just the second time in his last 39 starts.

    After walking back-to-back batters to load the bases with one out in the first inning, Hamels managed to escape unscathed. He went on to retire eight straight batters.

    But Hamels encountered trouble again in the fourth and fifth innings, when he walked two batters and hit another. Mix in four hits, and the Marlins easily grabbed a 3-0 lead.

    Hamels was lifted for a pinch-hitter when the Phillies came to bat in the sixth. He allowed three runs on five hits on the way to his third loss in his last 12 starts.

    "I was pretty much putting myself in a situation where I wasn't getting ahead of guys to challenge them,'' Hamels said. "When I had to throw a strike, I left it up in the zone in a place where they were able to make good, solid contact with it.''

    The defeat, meanwhile, was the 29th for the Phillies in the 47 games Hamels has started over the last two seasons.

    Hamels has a 3.41 ERA in those games. The Phillies' offense has scored three runs or fewer in 25 of those 47 games; they've scored five or more in 14 of thom.

    Perhaps Sandberg calling the current offense's "pressing situation'' can be extended to how the lineup feels when Hamels takes the mound, too, given the inability to score regular runs for him over the last two seasons.

    "It's a team game, and even if they are pressing too hard, then I'm pressing too hard,'' Hamels said. "They like to win and we're all accustomed to winning, so when you're not doing so, you want it and press instead of just going back to basics and playing simplified baseball. I'm probably a big culprit of it, trying to be too fine and not calm down. It puts you in a stressful situation and that isn't a good situation for your teammates or for you and your body. It's going to add up at some point.''

    Last night, the Phillies appeared to be primed to give Hamels a lead before he took the mound.

    Ben Revere led off the game with a single off Marlins starter Tom Koehler and Jimmy Rollins followed with a base hit. Rollins stole second to put two runners in scoring position with no one out.

    But Chase Utley and Marlon Byrd struck out and Ryan Howard grounded out. The Phillies would repeat the trick in the sixth, when Tony Gwynn Jr. (pinch-hitting for Hamels) walked, Revere singled, and then the next three hitters followed with outs.

    "The heart of the order coming up . . . That's the frustrating part of it,'' Sandberg said. "Having the right guys up at the right time.''

    The Phillies have scored two runs or fewer in seven of their last 12 games (they scored just three in two other games in that stretch).

    As the losses mount with each day, so do the hours ticking down to the trade deadline at the end of the month, 4 weeks from today.

    "I understand where I stand,'' said Hamels, who signed a 6-year, $144 million extension 2 years ago this month. "I do, I want to be here. I'm happy to be here. The other guys have different situations . . . I try to stay out of that as much as possible.''

    Hollands hurt

    Phillies rookie reliever Mario Hollands exited the eighth inning of last night's game with a right knee contusion. Hollands was hit in the leg by a line drive off the bat of Marcell Ozuna.

    Hollands stayed in the game initially, facing two more batters: Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jeff Baker. Saltalamacchia homered and Baker doubled.

    The home run snapped Hollands' 18-inning scoreless streak, which spanned 19 games since May 9. It was the third-longest active streak among major league pitchers.

    On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

    Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

    Ryan Lawrence Daily News Staff Writer
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