Saturday was one of the biggest let-downs of the Phillies season. Friday night they had an offensive explosion that appeared the demonstrate that they had carried the momentum they had established prior to the All-Star break, over into the second-half of the season. Saturday, Cole Hamels struggled with his control in the pounding heat and that coupled with missed opportunities with runners in scoring position led the Phillies to a five to four loss. Sunday the Phillies looked to regroup, by sending All-Star Cliff Lee to the mound. Unfortunately the Mets were trotting out an All-Star of their own, in Matt Harvey.
In his last start prior to the All-Star break, many began to question whether Cliff Lee was actually throwing too many strikes and leaving too many pitches up in the zone. Sunday, the answer was made pretty clear by the Mets lineup. David Wright and Marlon Byrd belted back-to-back homeruns in the top of the first, to put the Phillies in an early hole. In the fourth, upcoming Phillie-killer Juan Lagares gave the Mets a huge cushion, with a three-run homerun to give the Mets a five to nothing lead.
Lee would finish the afternoon having thrown six innings, while allowing seven hits, and five earned runs. It hasn’t been a pretty month of July for Lee, who struggled before, during, and now after the All-Star game. He needs to mix up his pitches a bit more, and make sure that he doesn’t fall into a second-half slump. Cole Hamels is already struggling and Roy Halladay is still out, so the last thing that the Phillies need is for Lee to go into a prolonged struggle.
Lee’s start was the polar opposite of Matt Harvey’s. Harvey went seven scoreless innings, while only allowing three hits and striking out ten. His perfect mix of a high 90’s fastball and an array of breaking pitches makes it easy to see how Harvey has been so dominant this season.
So after a positive start to the series, the Phillies lost in depressing fashion in their final two games of the series. The Phillies play the Cardinals and Tigers in their next two series, and if they play like the did in the last two games, it might not be too late to be sellers at the trade deadline.