Phillies Drop Home Opener With Another Quiet Hitting Performance

Apr 09, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels (35) delivers to the plate during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

It's probably disingenuous to write that Cole Hamels dominated. He gave up four runs, three earned. Of the 22 batters to face Hamels, eight of them got a hit.

But it's sure as heck disingenuous to write that he struggled, too. Of those 22 batters, Hamels struck out nine. He threw 29 change-ups; 22 were strikes, and 10 were swinging strikes. And it's not like he was helped by his defense, either:

But he lost his first start of the year, with the Phillies losing their home opener to the Marlins, 6-2. And the truth is that Hamels probably wouldn't have won even if he'd pitched a full nine innings and allowed two runs. With Ryan Howard and Chase Utley out, the Phillies aren't hitting. It's the kind of not-hitting that will cause a team to drop a three-game series against the Pirates.

And it was part of the problem on Monday against the Marlins. The Phillies are now 1-3. Four games. Eight runs. It's not time to panic, of course. But it's certainly time for articles like this to hint subtly that it's time to panic while overtly suggesting that it isn't time to panic.

Here's why it's not not time to panic. The following players started today for the Phils:

Galvis got the big two-run hit of the afternoon, but he's still Freddy Galvis. Mayberry hit fifth in Monday's lineup. That's not even getting into players like Placido Polanco (who had a pretty rough year last year, and is now 36) or Jimmy Rollins (whose semi-productive season last year bucked a two-year decline), both players for whom a decline seems likely. And while Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence are still good players, it's worth noting that they also had the best seasons of their respective careers last year. Hoping for them to still be productive is natural. Expecting them to hit like they did last year, when they were good enough to carry an offense, is folly.

Feel free to bookmark this and come back in September when the Phillies are on their way to 100 wins again. It'll deserve the mockery. But just like the Red Sox, the way the Phillies are losing right now is exactly how you'd expect them to lose. The offense was a concern to start the season; the offense is a concern through four games.

Hamels and Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee will make up for a lot of offensive transgressions. But they aren't magic, and that's what the Phillies need if they're going to continue to flail at the plate.


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