Washington shortstop Cristian Guzman went 3-for-5, including a bases-clearing double in the eight inning, as the Nationals defeated the Phillies 9-7. The Phils lick their wounds before a pivotal series with the Mets.
This was a difficult pill to swallow because the offense was finally there. Defeat was set in motion by Joe Blanton, who allowed four runs in four-plus innings, the second lousy start of the series. Blanton was brought in to devour innings and hasn’t done it. He’s made it through the sixth inning just once in his last five starts. Worst of all, he’s contributing to losses, which is what they wanted to get away from when they removed Adam Eaton from the equation. (What to do with Blanton after the season is an interesting topic for another day.)
It’s just too many short ones lately from Blanton, Kyle Kendrick and Jamie Moyer for a team scuffling to find someone to step up and work the seventh and eighth innings. Make it five of their last six losses blown in those frames. We’ve seen way too much Chad Durbin. Way, way too much. They're in over their heads there, and I’m wondering if the strain, and exposure, has caught up with him for good.
The Mets have a magic number; it's 20. The two sides clash this weekend. For once, the Phillies have their best fighters lined up for it. They’re going to need a minimum of seven good innings from Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer and Cole Hamels and hope the Mets ease up and the Phils find a way. Their backs are to the wall, but recordwise, they’re still three wins ahead of last year's pace. That fact represents one of the few shining lights for a team that’s seemed out of sorts since the start of interleague play. But better record aside, once again, they're counting on the Mets to blow it in September, and the fact is, the Mets are playing better baseball.
Readers weigh in: “The Phillies ran into a team that while bad on the year has been playing much better as of late. Unfortunately it came in the first week of September and the Phillies have realy put themselves behind the 8-ball. I hesitate to say they need to sweep the Mets as there will be 19 games left after that three game series. They definitely need to win the series, and they have a good shot at it. If the Phillies lose the series, or even worse get swept then I think you can start shoveling dirt on them. Yes they made up 7 games last year with 17 to play but you can't count on lightning striking twice like that.” – The Truth Injection