PHOENIX – Tyler Cloyd received the quintessential welcome to the Phillies’ pitching staff on Friday night. He received little run support.
Another lousy performance by the offense in a 3-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks also turned out to be Cloyd’s going-away present (see Instant Replay). He was sent back to Triple A after the game as the Phils recalled reliever Justin De Fratus. Because of off days, the Phillies can go with a four-man starting staff until May 21.
“They don’t need a fifth starter for a while, so I might as well go down and try to keep pitching well, and hopefully another opportunity will come,” Cloyd said.
The right-hander, filling in for injured Roy Halladay, allowed just two runs in 6 1/3 innings.
“He gave us a chance,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “He pitched well. He gave us a chance.”
Of course, the Phillies did not cash in on that chance and a trip that started with so much promise with two wins in the City by the Bay has turned into a disaster in the desert. The Phils have lost three in a row to fall to 16-21. They have scored just three runs the last two nights.
Lack of offense puts tremendous pressure on a pitching staff. One or two swings of the bat late in the game can be huge difference-makers. They were in this one.
The Phillies scored two quick runs on Ian Kennedy in the first inning, but got nothing the rest of the night. Cloyd took a 2-1 lead to the mound in the bottom of the seventh. He gave up a one-out hit to Cody Ross and was lifted for lefty Antonio Bastardo.
The first batter that Bastardo faced was Jason Kubel. He flied out deep to center, so deep that Ross was able to move to second on Ben Revere’s weak arm. That was a big play because it put the tying run in scoring position for Martin Prado.
Prado had been hitless in his previous 29 at-bats with a runner in scoring position, but on the eighth pitch of the at-bat delivered a game-tying RBI single to right-center.
With first base open, Manuel could have had Bastardo walk the right-handed hitting Prado and gone after left-handed hitting Miguel Montero, who entered the game hitting .198.
“I thought about that,” Manuel said. “But we thought Bastardo could get Prado swinging at something down. And if we walked him we’d be putting the go-ahead run on and he could score from first in this park.”
In a 2-2 game, Prado was caught stealing to end the seventh inning. That meant Montero would lead off the bottom of the eighth. Instead of sticking with Bastardo on the lefty, Manuel went to Mike Adams. Montero hit the first pitch off the right-field foul pole to give Arizona a 3-2 lead.
Manuel went to Adams “because he’s our eighth-inning guy.”
Montero hit a changeup.
“I left it up,” Adams said. “He took advantage of a mistake. You make mistakes like that and it costs you. Tyler did the job and gave us a chance to win.”
Adams is right: Mistakes cost you. They especially cost a pitching staff when it has no margin for error because the offense stinks.
Four of the Phillies’ seven hits came in the first inning. They may have scored more than two runs in the inning if Chase Utley didn’t hesitate rounding second as he tried to stretch a double into a triple. He was cut down. The Phils got just three hits after the first inning. One of them came as they tried to rally in the ninth. They got runners to second and third with one out, but David Hernandez retired Laynce Nix and Jimmy Rollins to end the game. The Phils finished 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. They are 2 for 15 in those situations the last two nights.
Ooh, that smell.