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Inconsistency Dooms Phils, Royals Take Series

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It was ugly, it was fun, it was long, and it was frustrating. For the second time in the series, the Philadelphia Phillies jumped out to a first inning lead, and slowly let the Kansas City Royals chip away.

The offense again started fast, with Ben Revere leading off with an infield single. Jimmy Rollins followed with a sharp single up the middle kicked of Alcides Escobar’s glove into right field. With Revere on third, Chase Utley blooped a single to shallow left to score Revere, 1-0 Phillies.

After a Ryan Howard punch out, third baseman Michael Young singled to left field to score Rollins from third and making it 2-0. Domonic Brown took his turn in the hit parade with a single to right field, plating Utley, and making the score 3-0 Phillies.

Finally, Erik Kratz would lift a ball to center field to bring Young home on a sacrifice fly to push the advantage to 4-0. Just like the home opener, the offense jumped out early, but then would go dormant. They did not score again until the bottom of the ninth.

The Phils got a lot of early hits against Royals’ starter James Shields, but they did not work the count. They capitalized on pitches to hit, and Shields was in trouble in spots, but managed to work out of trouble without further damage. He wasn’t great, but he really wasn’t forced to work after the first few innings.

Cole Hamels, making his second start of the season, was not particularly sharp. He got through the first two innings, but the Royals got to him in the 3rd.

Chris Getz bunted his way on, and after pitcher James Shields popped up, Alex Gordon followed with a double. Just like the home opener, the Royals cut the lead in half. Escobar singled to right field to plate Getz and advance Gordon to third. Billy Butler then grounded to short, and Gordon would cross the plate. The Phillies lead cut to 4-2.

Home plate umpire Eric Cooper would play a factor in today’s game. His calls on the corners were inconsistent, and there were a few delayed calls that did not go the Phillies’ way.

Hamels did not look comfortable on the mound today. He nibbled a lot on the corners and often pitched from behind. He walked four batters on the day, while only striking out two.

The Royals took the lead in the fifth, starting off with a Chris Getz double. After Shields struck out, Gordon managed an infield single to put runners at the corners with one out. Hamels then walked Escobar on four pitches to bring big Billy Butler to the plate. Butler has found a career as a designated hitter in the American League, but manager Ned Yost started him the last two games at first base.

It paid off. Butler lifted a Hamels fastball to left field that just cleared the wall for a grand slam home run. Just like that, it was 6-4 in favor of the Royals. For the second time in the series, the Royals erased an early four run deficit to take the lead.

There were at it again in the sixth, when Lorenzo Cain leadoff with a single. Hamels was able to induce a ground ball double play to Getz for two outs and no base runners. Jarrod Dyson then pinch hit for Shields, and managed to reach base. Gordon followed that with a double to put he & Dyson in scoring position with two outs.

That would be all for Hamels, he departed after 5.2 inning pitched. Chad Durbin was brought in and walked Escobar to load the bases. He would then face, you guessed it, Butler. Butler came through again with the bases loaded, roping a single to center to score Dyson and Gordon and push the Royals’ lead to 8-4, both runs charged to Hamels. He allowed 8 earned runs on nine hits.

Durbin was brought back for his experience in the middle innings. He has not lived up to expectations. He has allowed all five base runners that he’s inherited this season to score and seven of the eleven hitters he’s faced have reached base.

The Phillies collected some two out hits in the seventh and eighth, but to no avail. They left eight men on base on the day.

Jeremy Horst was brought in for the eighth, and allowed a one out double to Dyson; He then scored on single by Gordon, making it 9-4 Kansas City.

Alex Gordon hit .500 for the series, going 7-14 with 5 runs scored.

Philippe Aumont worked into a bases loaded jam in the top of the ninth, but managed to escape without allowing a run.

The bottom of the ninth, the Phillies offense made some noise. Ezequiel Carrera, who started in right field today, led off with a walk. After strikeout by John Mayberry, Jr., who came in as part of a double switch, Revere singled to center field. Rollins stepped up next and golfed a pitch over the fence in right field. That made it 9-7 Royals.

At this time Royals manager Ned Yost called on his closer Greg Holland to relieve J.C. Gutierrez.

Utley, doing his best to get Howard to the plate representing the tying run, worked a full count but flied out to center. Then came Howard, who was 0-4 on the day with three strikeouts to this point. He managed a single to center field to keep the game alive.

Michael Young followed with a single of his own to put runners on first and second with two outs. With the pitcher’s spot due up, Charlie Manuel called on Laynce Nix for a pinch hit.

Again, Yost went to his bullpen and called on the hard throwing Kelvin Herrera.

Nix laced a single to center field to score Howard, cutting the deficit to one, 9-8.  The Phillies have scored seven runs in the ninth inning the last two games. After a wild pitch, the tying and winning runs were moved into scoring position.

Erik Kratz was the hitter, with two outs and runners on second and third. He fell behind in the count, but managed to foul off a number of pitches. Kratz would go down swinging to end the Phillies’ threat, and the game.

The Phillies sit at 2-4 so far on the year, losing their first two series. They get back at it tomorrow night when their arch rival New York Mets invade Citizens Bank Park.

Roy Halladay gets the call, looking to rebound from his poor spring and last start. Derrick Harvey takes the mound for the Metropolitans.

Photo courtesy of CSNPhilly.com

Stats courtesy of Phillies.com