By Sam Bush
The Phils got beat by Miami last night, 5-4 in 11 innings, have lost five consecutive games and nine of their last 11 to fall to 36-47, the second time this season they have been 11 games under .500. They are 9 1/2 games out of first place in the National League East, where they sit in last place.
“You get good signs here and there, you really do,” starting pitcher A. J. Burnett (photo above) said. “It just seems like the games we’re close to we just don’t win them.”
Burnett is 5-7 with a 3.92 ERA this season. He has a limited no-trade clause, plus a few million dollars remaining on his deal. Those are roadblocks, but he could have value to a team that believes it is a veteran pitcher short of a deep postseason run.
“This is my team and until I hear otherwise, this is who I go to the mound for, who I pitch for,” Burnett said. “And that’s where my head’s at. It’s nowhere else but trying to help this team win games. … I don’t worry about that or get involved in that until I have to.”
The Phillies are hitting .241 with a .672 OPS, which would be the organization’s lowest marks in both categories since 1991. The club also is averaging 3.84 runs per game, which is its second-lowest average since 1988. They averaged 3.77 runs per game last season, which means this season’s offensive struggles are part of a longer trend.
The Phillies have scored more than three runs just three times in their 2-9 stretch, and the struggles continued Tuesday.
The Phillies tied the game at 4 in the eighth inning, when Marlon Byrd and Cody Asche hit back-to-back home runs against Marlins right-hander Kevin Gregg. It was Byrd’s 16th homer of the season and Asche’s fifth.
But the Phillies did not have a single baserunner the rest of the way.
“We’re not getting enough offensive production,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said before the game. “Pitching and defense has always been the theme, but we’ve been so inconsistent offensively, that’s got to be one of the priorities moving forward.”
“The offense has been inconsistent,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said after the game. “It has been sporadic. It’s made it tough on the starting pitcher that day, trying to be perfect. You know what? The bullpen has stepped up and done its job, putting up zeroes late in the game only to come short on the offensive side of things a lot of times.”
The Marlins scored a couple runs in the fourth to tie game at 2 with help from a couple walks from Burnett. Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled to center to score both Giancarlo Stanton and Casey McGehee. They took a 4-2 lead in the fifth. Stanton scored Miami’s fourth run when he advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch and strikeout from Burnett, who allowed six hits, four runs (three earned runs), four walks and struck out 10 in six innings.
The Marlins finally broke through again in the 11th as Phillies right-hander Justin De Fratus allowed his first run in 17 appearances since being recalled from Triple-A in late May. Pinch-hitter Jeff Bakerhit a leadoff single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Ed Lucas followed and looped a ball down the right-field line to easily score Baker from second.