The Phillies had enjoyed a day off on Monday, had Shane Victorino returning to the lineup, and had Eric Bruntlett and Paul Bako ("The Bash-less Brothers?""The Worstest Backups You Know?") returning to the bench. With Jason Hammel (4.66 ERA) on the mound for Colorado, and the game to be contested in the homer-friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park, the Phils should have been able to end their two-game losing streak. But their difficulties getting hits, succeeding with runners in scoring position, and scoring actual runs, continued. The Phillies left seven more men on base, converting nine hits and a walk, into only three runs. Jimmy Rollins was responsible for a pair of those runs, with a two-run homer. The Phillies could not overcome nine strikeouts, and a poor outing by starter Jamie Moyer, falling to Colorado, 8-3.
Jamie Moyer continued his pattern of struggling every-other start, as well as his pattern of having difficulties against teams that do not have atrocious offenses. Moyer lasted two un-retired batters into the sixth inning, in earning his eighth loss of the season. Moyer's final line: five innings, six hits, six runs (four walk/three whiffs/one home run allowed). The soft-tossing veteran increased his ERA to 5.55. Moyer has two-hundred fifty-six wins to his record, and a guaranteed $6.5 million plus, on his contract for 2010. He has also been the weakest link, in a rotation that could soon include Pedro Martinez. The Phillies have some difficult choices to make for their rotation, and Moyer's poor performances are making the decision-making all the more burdensome.
Rodrigo Lopez relieved Moyer in the sixth inning, and made a case for his own removal from the pitching equation. In his first relief outing for the Phils, Lopez permitted two inherited runners to score, as well as two of his own runners. Two innings, five hits, two runs - those are the type of results that could find Lopez looking for a new organization for which to ply his current trade. Continued performances like these, and both veteran hurlers could be spending September merely observing the Phillies' pursuit of the pennant.
Tyler Walker and Brad Lidge each pitched a scoreless inning, with Lidge even getting his ERA below 7.00 (now 6.92). Walker's previous outings, however, have likely punched his ticket back to Lehigh Valley (AAA), with a departure scheduled for later this week. Lidge's contract, and perfect 2008 season, make his leash a bit longer, but he needs an improved August, if he expects to remain in the closer's role. Ryan Madson is a satisfactory option to finish games, and Brett Myers could be, once he completes his minor league rehab. The erratic performances from the offense will merely result in patience, as the lineup is too good to slump for long. The bullpen, and the back-of-the-rotation, could be in a state of flux for the remainder of the regular season.
J.A. Happ gets the start for the Phillies on Wednesday, as they host Colorado in the second, of three, games. It could be the last start for the rookie southpaw, if the Phillies decide to reallocate him to the bullpen, in favor of Pedro Martinez. Though Happ's success has been largely BABIP-fueled, he is still a better starting option than Jamie Moyer, at this point in their respective careers. A good start by Happ on Wednesday could help the Phils snap their losing streak, as well as decrease the likelihood of the ineffective Moyer being allowed to remain in the rotation.