"Actually, we've hit enough to win 78 ballgames," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "We're sitting in a good place. Now is a good time to pick it up. We need to put runs on the board consistently, and if we don't, you know, that's what it's about."
The Phillies (78-60) muddled their way through a 7-1 loss to the Marlins (70-66) at Citizens Bank Park on Monday afternoon in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. In his big league debut, Florida starter Adalberto Mendez held Philadelphia to just one hit over six innings, and it took a pair of ninth-inning hits off reliever Jose Ceda to score its one and only run of the afternoon.
Mendez, who threw 86 pitches -- 55 for strikes -- left the game in the top of the seventh with a right quad strain suffered as he ran out the first hit of his career. Before that, his two-pitch combination of fastball and slider proved more than the Phillies were able to handle and left him with as many hits as he's given up in his Major League career.
"He was everything we'd thought he'd be," Manuel said. "He was a two-pitch pitcher. A fastball and a slider and we didn't do too much with him.
"We had good reports on this guy. He had two pitches. His command wasn't what you would call real good, and he gave us some pitches to hit. We just didn't plain hit. That was it."
"He doesn't have a lot of movement on his fastball," Marlins catcher Brad Davis said. "It's pretty straight. But it has that rise to it. Where those pitches are up in the zone, they're hard to lay off of. They stay up, and you see a lot of foul balls straight back. He came out, he threw strikes and he was under control."
Not exactly high praise for a rookie that dominated one of the best offenses on paper, but that's what you get with the 2010 Phillies. It's almost easy to see why the Phils have been one-hit three times this year and came real close on Monday afternoon, until Ryan Howard doubled and Jayson Werth singled the first baseman home in the ninth.
Despite the loss, the Phillies remained just one game behind the Braves in the National League East race, as Atlanta lost, 3-1, in Pittsburgh on Monday afternoon. The Phillies don't have long to think about another missed opportunity, as Roy Oswalt will take the mound at 7:05 p.m. ET against Florida's Anibal Sanchez in Game 2 of this twin bill.
The Phillies will have plenty to think about before the rotation works its way around to the five-spot, currently occupied by Kyle Kendrick.
Kendrick's struggles over his last five starts have been well documented, and rookie Vance Worley had a chance to open some eyes as the starter for the opener. Worley (0-1) allowed single runs in the first two innings before he settled into a groove and went five innings. Once he got into a groove, the young right-hander scattered six hits and struck out five as he retired the final five hitters he faced.
"Let me tell you something -- we have another game to play," Manuel said. "I'm not even thinking about that.
"He threw five innings and he did a good job. He got us where we wanted him to go, and for your first start in the Major Leagues, he was fine. If it wasn't 2-0 or we were winning, I definitely would have thought about keeping him in the game."
"Anytime you can get out of a jam and come back and compete, it's a good thing," said Worley, who allowed a runner to reach second in all but the fifth inning. "I just tried to remain patient and keep my mind clear. I would have liked to stay in, but we had a chance to score a run, so they went with a hitter."
Worley did show the ability to overcome adversity as the Marlins pressured him in every inning. In the first, a walk to Logan Morrison and then a wild pitch set up an RBI single by Dan Uggla. Then in the second, Chad Tracy hit a 2-1 pitch out of the park for an early 2-0 lead.
That was more than enough, as the Phillies managed just three hits over the entire afternoon.
Michael Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less