By Mary Cunningham
The Phillies have that sinking feeling — last night’s 4-1 loss to the Rockies was their fifth straight and they are in last place, 10 games behind the NL East-leading Washington Nationals.
So, it’s a good thing Aaron Harang gets the start today at 3 pm at Citizens Bank Park.
Harang’s first 10 starts have been impressive, particularly for a 37-year-old who has bounced around the majors for the last five years. What he’s done at home has been spectacular.
Harang (4-4, 1.93 ERA) took the decision in Sunday’s 4-1 loss in Washington after allowing two runs in six innings, but he’s gone five May starts without allowing more than two earned. That’s amounted to a 2-2 record and 1.36 ERA with two earned runs surrendered over 15 home innings to move him to 2-1 with a 0.61 ERA in four starts at Citizens Bank. Including last season with Atlanta, he’s 4-1 with a 1.26 ERA in his last six starts at the ballpark.
The success is coming with a relaxed approach.
“The big thing is trying to give us a chance to win,” Harang told MLB.com. “There is only so much I can do. Once I release the ball, it’s out of my control unless the ball is hit back to me or I’m in the play somehow.”
The outing before losing in Washington came in Colorado, where Harang allowed three unearned runs and three hits in six innings of a 6-5 defeat on May 19 without a decision. He’s 2-1 with a 1.73 ERA in his last four starts against the Rockies (20-26).
The Phillies (19-31), in danger of their second six-game losing streak of the season, managed two hits and have scored one run in two games. They’re batting .207 on the skid with nine runs scored, and Ryan Howard is 0 for 12 in his last three.
Colorado’s pitching has been the thrust of the recent success with a 2.36 ERA in six games, and the bullpen has limited opponents to one earned run over 10 innings in that time. The rotation has also been far better after posting a 5.37 ERA in the Rockies’ 40 games. Since, it’s posted a 2.70, though Jorge De La Rosa hasn’t been a part of it.
De La Rosa (1-2, 6.51) hasn’t lost in his last three starts, but he’s made it through the fifth inning once in those. He threw 7 1-3 scoreless innings at the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 16, but that stands as the only start he’s surpassed the five-inning mark this season.
The left-hander followed it up by allowing three runs and five hits with three walks in 4 1-3 innings of a 7-3 home loss to Philadelphia on May 21 and was scratched Tuesday because of a cut on the middle finger of his pitching hand.
“Like they say, when you can’t throw strikes, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes, and that happened today,” De La Rosa said.
He’s 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA in his last four starts against the Phillies.Carlos Ruiz is 6 for 11 off De La Rosa.