Phillies 2 (9-5), Braves 0 (8-6)
WP: Hallady (4-0)
LP: Hudson (1-2)
This was a story about an offense and its horrifying ability to not be able to get anything going on. The Braves only managed 6 baserunners on Wednesday, and the one serious scoring threat the team had was neutralized by Yunel Escobar and his fantastic ability to hit groundballs whenever the hell he wants. I'm of course referring to the bases loaded, 1 out situation the Braves had in the 7th inning. Juan Castro did make a nice play on the ball, but Escobar is beating the ball into the ground too much, and no one is bothering to take him to task for it. Let me tell you this folks: Escobar's OPS is .490, and no one seems to really give a damn about it. The only Braves starter with a lower OPS is (shock and awe alert!) Melky Cabrera, but people would rather lambaste the hell out of Troy Glaus or Nate McLouth. Excluding opening day, Escobar has one extra base hit and 3 RBI in 13 games. THAT is pathetic from someone who is supposed to be a franchise player. After grounding into 20 DPs in each of the past 2 years, he's of to a great start in that regard, with a team high 3 this season (Glaus also has 3). Just one more note about how pathetic Escobar is playing: he's got more strikeouts than line drives this year (5 to 4). There are only 2 upsides to Escobar's year so far: his defense is the best its ever been (19.9 UZR/150 in a teeny tiny sample size), and he's not striking out a ton (9.1%...which makes the fact that he's got more strikeouts than line drives all the more chilling).
Alright, now back to the game. No one on the team seemed to want to make Halladay work. No one saw more than 17 pitches on the evening, and Jason Heyward was the only one who came close to averaging 5 pitches per PA. Nate McLouth, apparently on top of the world after his walkoff last night, found it fitting to see NINE PITCHES. As the LEADOFF HITTER. In FOUR AT BATS. Seriously? This entire offense is a mess right now.
The pitching on the other hand was fantastic, but had nothing to support it, as I've outlined. Tim Hudson allowed 2 runs on 6 hits, 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts in 6 strong innings which more than gave a team a chance to win the game. The bullpen did its part yet again, with a pair of perfect innings from Jonny Venters (AGAIN!!!!) and a scoreless 9th from Takashi Saito. But it didn't matter, the team still lost. People say pitching wins championships...but if the offense isn't going to show up night after night, it doesn't matter how good the pitching is. You're going to lose.
The rubber match of the series is tonight in Atlanta, with Derek Lowe taking the mound for the Braves looking for his 4th win (another reason why pitching wins are stupid. He's pitched horribly and he's 3-0), against the ancient wonder Jamie Moyer. I'd expect a lot of runs tonight, but the Braves probably won't be able to get around on Moyer's fastball, and he'll go 7 scoreless. We'll see.