The Philadelphia Phillies are taking advantage of the National League Central leading Milwaukee Brewere’s slump. The Phillies entered this four-game series with the Brewers having gone 3-13 since June 21st. The Brewers entered having lost five of their last six games and seriously missing Ryan Braun.
In today’s 4-1 victory, Roberto Hernandez pitched eight solid innings, allowing three hits and one run for the win. Hernandez also likely increased his trade stock after a shaky June that saw him go 1-5 in seven starts with a 5.03 ERA. Hernandez has generally needed a lot of pitches to get out of jams all season, causing his ERA to skyrocket. He flipped that trend today, only needing 84 pitches to get through eight innings, throwing 18 first pitch strikes to 29 batters faced and only walking two batters. Jonathan Papelbon came on in the ninth inning to earn his 22nd save of the season.
Another common problem for Hernandez has been run support, but the Phillies bats were still a little warm after Tuesday night’s barnburner. The Phils had seven hits that led to four runs. Three of those runs came on a solo home run from Chase Utley and a two-run homer from Jimmy Rollins. Cameron Rupp added the final run of the evening on an infield single in the seventh. All four runs came with two outs, something the Phillies haven’t exactly been known to do this season.
There were still some glaring problems at the plate…Problems that would be the headline of this game review if not for the slumping team in the other dugout. The Phillies drew zero walks, even thought they saw 107 pitches from Kyle Lohse. They struck out nine times – one by Ben Revere, one by Ryan Howard, two by Cody Asche, two by Domonic Brown, one by Rupp and two by Hernandez. A nine-to-zero strikeout to walk ratio is exactly what has the Phillies nine games under .500.
Ryan Howard’s strikeout doesn’t begin to tell the whole story of how far the power first baseman has fallen. In the month of July, Howard is 3-26 with only 5 walks – on OBP of .281 and batting average of .115. He hasn’t hit a homerun since June 19th and has two RBIs since the same day. If there was a replacement waiting in the wings for Ryan, we would have seen him by now. Darin Ruf has been hurt and never looked to be the answer when he was ready. As reported earlier today by Phillies101, there’s a chance that top prospect Maikel Franco will see some time at first base in the near future.
On Thursday, the Phillies will look for the four-game sweep against the Brewers when Matt Garza (6-5) takes the mound against David Buchanan (4-5).
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