SAN FRANCISCO—The World Champion Philadelphia Phillies are in San Francisco, but by the looks of the empty seats around the stadium, one wouldn't know. Now, 36,603 for tonight is greater than a usual Thursday night, but the Giants' Tim Lincecum drew more crowds than the defending champs did (The Freak drew 40,008 on July 27, his last start).
The atmosphere was playoff-ish, but the performance by the Phillies was not playoff-worthy. The team's defense was uncharacteristically sloppy. Pair that with a bad outing from Phillies starter Rodrigo Lopez and we get a one-sided game as the Phils lose 7-2.
Lopez went four innings, allowing seven runs (three earned) on eight hits. Behind him, the defense committed three errors—so unexpected from a team that has the third best fielding percentage (tied with the LA Dodgers) in the Majors.
"Usually he [Lopez] is in command of his pitches—that hurt him," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Our defense put him in situations tonight that were tough for him."
Despite the losing streak, Manuel remains confident.
"We got beat tonight, but tomorrow, when we come out, this game is behind us," Manuel said. "When we leave the ballpark here, this game's behind us. Tomorrow when we come out, we come out tomorrow to win a game."
The Phillies' skipper knows his team and knows what's best for them.
"We adopted that about three years ago and it's worked for us and it's a good way for us to play. I give all the credit to our players and the fact of how much they like to play," Manuel explained. "Tonight, we didn't have a good game, but there’s a good chance we'll come back tomorrow and play good."
They definitely need to step it up and play well. They may be the team with the best road record, but as they face the Giants, the team with the highest winning percentage at home, it seems the home team has the advantage. Tomorrow, they look to turn things around as they send their newest starting pitcher, Cliff Lee, to the mound.
Phillies fans are eagerly awaiting the performance of the reigning 2008 AL Cy Young award winner. Manuel seems quite confident in Lee, as he faces Giants rookie Ryan Sadowski in the second game of the four-game series.
"He's a big-time pitcher and we'll put him in a jersey and see how he does," Manuel said. "We break him in as a Phillie tomorrow, so we’ll let him go. I'm sure he'll be okay."
July 31 is the day for Lee to show what he has to offer the Phillies. First step is to halt the losing streak and add to the best road record in baseball.
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