After a better, but still not great road trip against the Reds and White Sox, the Phillies began a four-game set at home against the lowly Colorado Rockies on Thursday night. Matt Strahm pitched much better than his final line showed, but unfortunately for Strahm and the Phillies, the offense disappeared once again.
Phillies hitters have been quite mercurial this season, ranking near the top of the league in most offensive categories except for home runs, but often falling silent for entire contests. This same fate befell them once again on Thursday, as they failed to hit lowly Rockies starter Ryan Feltner.
Feltner entered Thursday’s matchup with an atrocious 8.78 ERA, and yet against the Phillies he looked like Greg Maddux. The 26-year-old tossed 5.2 brilliant innings, walking three and allowing three hits, while punching out six. Things didn’t get any better against sidearmer Justin Lawrence, who threw 2.1 scoreless frames of his own. They pieced together a mini rally with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but it was far too little, far too late, as they failed to score a single run.
Matt Strahm pitched much better than his overall line indicates, as he really only made one mistake to C.J. Cron in the first inning. Cron turned on that mistake pitch and launched it deep into the left field seats for a two-run blast to give the Rockies an early lead. Strahm piled up a career-high 11 punchouts, while surrendering three hits and walking only two. He was let down by a bullpen that has looked gassed from overuse lately, as Andrew Bellatti struggled to get outs. Bellatti labored through only 0.2 innings, needing 33 pitches while yielding two hits and two walks. He allowed an inherited runner from Strahm to score, as well as an earned run of his own on a bases loaded walk, and continues to look fatigued after being used so heavily to begin the year.
Thursday’s affair was yet another disappointing night from an offense that has constantly befuddled over the first few weeks of the season. The same team that racked up 15 runs against the Marlins and 14 against the lowly Reds was completely flummoxed by a handful of middling pitchers on one of the worst teams in baseball. Not only were they not hitting, but they shut themselves in the foot twice, with clock violations starting off both Kyle Schwarber and Alec Bohm in 0-1 counts in key spots.
This shutout is the third the Phillies have suffered in their last six games, as the feast or famine offense has let them go hungry far too often. Aaron Nola will try to get the Phils back on track Friday night against rookie Noah Davis.