July 2, 2009 2:00 AM

Another Game, Another Loss

MLB: APR 13 Phillies at Nationals

The Phillies lost to the Braves on Wednesday night, by a score of 11-1. But do not be deceived. The game wasn't really that close. It is easy to lay the blame at the feet of third-string catcher Paul Bako, and Manager Charlie Manuel for including the ineffectual backstop in the starting lineup. But, once again, Bako wasn't the only Phillie who was bad at baseball on Wednesday. (Just the only one tragically-named Gabor.)

Ace Cole Hamels got the start, and was strong from the outset. Until the third inning, when he surrendered three runs. After a scoreless fourth inning, Hamels ran into more trouble in the fifth. Hamels pitched to four batters in the fifth, retiring a grand total of zero of them, before his untimely departure. Hamels threw eighty-eight pitches in the abridged outing, permitting seven runs, on nine hits (two walks/one(!) strikeout). Hamels' record dropped to 4-5, with an ERA of 4.98, and appears rather Verduccified. (Fortunately, the Phillies have Rodrigo Lopez available to bolster the scuffling rotation.)

Tyler Walker, The Destroyer of ERAs Other Than His Own, replaced Hamels in the fifth. Walker permitted the one runner he inherited to score, as in his way. This time, however, Walker was charged with two runs to his own record, as he allowed a pair of fifth-inning homers. When the Braves were content with their brutalization of the scoreline, they had a 9-1 lead. Walker returned for a scoreless sixth, but the numerator of his FIP equation had already been scarred by the pair of fifth-inning home runs. The Phillies' hopes of a victory, on life support when Walker entered the fracas, were all but extinguished.

The vulgar display of "pitching" was rendered almost irrelevant by the absent Phillies' offense. The Phillies scored a run in the fourth inning, an unearned marker without the benefit of a hit. The Phils did manage a hit, eventually, but not until the seventh inning, when Paul Bako singled. (Note:We are still not rooting for no-hitters against the Phillies, no need to see that sort of historical event.) Philadelphia struck for another single in the eighth inning, off the bat of Shane Victorino, but that was the height of their maple-wielding success. The Phils were outhit in the game, 14-2.

Positives? Well, Rollins stole a base. He was, inexplicably, running on a 3-0 pitch, against a (momentarily) wild pitcher. But, still, A STOLEN BASE! Bako's lack of success with Hamels may have pushed him closer to the waiver wire. The Phillies managed to fill four relief innings without using any of their good relievers. (Note: "Good" is relative here, as the list includes Ryan Madson (struggled mightily as interim closer), Brad Lidge (struggling mightily as non-interim closer), Chad Durbin (4.29 ERA), Chan Ho Park (6.04 ERA, 4.70 in June, as a reliever), and J.C. Romero (1.85 WHIP).) Sergio Escalona pitched a scoreless seventh, and Jack Taschner allowed two unearned runs in the eighth. Taschner pitched to seven batters, surrendering two hits and a walk. His ERA remained at 5.20, but his WHIP was further mangled (1.95). (Taschner gets his demotion when his WHIP reaches 2.00, even if it is the middle of an inning, and episodes of "The Pen" have yet to be aired).

The Phillies' "Highlight of the Day" on their website is a sacrifice fly by Greg Dobbs. Impressive. The Phillies still lead the NL East by .007, over the Marlins. The Phils are still going to win the division, and undefeated J.A. Happ is going to beat the Braves on Thursday night. But this past month has been gosh-darned Bako Taschner painful.

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