The Phillies just lost of 2 of 3 to the Mariners out in Seattle, losing starts by Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels yet somehow defeating reigning AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez Saturday with Vance Worley on the mound.
Whatever, that's fine. I'm not going to freak out about the Phils losing a series in Seattle in the middle of June. For starters, the Phillies never really fare that well in interleague play, and then there's that little fact that they have the best record in baseball and the largest division lead in the game.
But there is one thing that bothered me about yesterday's game: the lineup. In case you were preoccupied with being a good son or daughter and actually spending time with your father on Father's Day, here is the lineup for the Phillies yesterday:
1. Jimmy Rollins ss
2. Shane Victorino cf
3. Chase Utley 2b
4. Ryan Howard 1b
OK, so far, so good. The offense has come to life with the return of Utley and since Victorino has been put in the two hole. Like I said, good start. But here's where it gets troublesome:
5. *Ben Francisco rf
6. Carlos Ruiz c
7. Raul Ibanez dh
8. *Wilson Valdez 3b
9. *Michael Martinez lf
Look at the bottom of that lineup. Something seems off, no? Specifically that Charlie Manuel actually filled out a lineup card that included the names Ben Francisco, Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez all starting in the same game.
I have a problem with this. Especially when the team is playing a soft-tossing lefty in Jason Vargas, the type of pitcher that for whatever reason seems to be this team's Kryptonite. I understand the need to give guys rest, especially with how many games the Phillies have been playing lately. Placido Polanco could certainly use a day off, and sitting Domonic Brown after a long stretch of starts against a crafty lefty isn't a bad idea. But to do it on the same day? And then to throw Michael Martinez out there too? That's a bit much, especially when you put the ridiculously struggling Francisco in the five hole as Howard's "protection." It was almost as if Manuel was asking his team not to score any runs.
Unsurprisingly, the Phillies couldn't even eke out one run and lost 2-0, wasting another good, if not his best, start by Cole Hamels, who gave up just 2 runs through 6 and a third.
Charlie's makeshift lineup bit him right from the get-go. After Rollins and Victorino were retired to start the game, Utley reached despite striking out thanks to Miguel Olivio completely missing the ball. Howard followed with a single, and then Utely and Howard advanced on a wild pitch. A hit by Francisco and the Phils would have an early 2-0 lead and perhaps the entire complexion of the game would have changed. Instead, Francisco predictably failed to come through, flying out harmlessly to center. He's now batting a lofty .218 on the season, and that's after a torrid first two weeks of the year. What I'm trying to say is Ben Fracisco is absolutely terrible. John Mayberry deserves to have his roster spot about 8 billion times more right now.
As it turned out, that was the closest the Phillies would get to scoring a run. In fact, they only had two more hits the rest of the game … one a meaningless single by Francisco with no one on base later in the game, and a single by Howard in the 9th before Francisco flew out to end the game.
It's incredibly frustrating to see the Phillies fail to even pose a threat against an average pitcher, but as we've come to know by now, Vargas is the type of guy that gives Philadelphia fits. What drives me nuts is that Manuel would decide to put in three bench players in the same game against a type of pitcher they already struggle against with their best lineup out there.
Like I said, I get it. Polanco needs a day off here and there. Dom is still very green. And you want to give guys like Francisco, Valdez and Martinez some at-bats — even though they can't hit much most of the time anyway — to keep them sharp. But there is such at thing as moderation. Like sitting Polanco on Friday or something, then Dom yesterday, etc. But hey, Charlie knows what he's doing, and there really isn't much to complain about right now (despite the fact that complaining is in our Philadelphia fan DNA).
I'm just in favor a little moderation with getting the subs in.
Also, Ben Francisco stinks. I'm not sure if I've mentioned that or not yet.