Thursday, June 12, 2008

Winning -- and losing -- Uggla

That Fish Fry the Phils were hoping for in South Florida this week is turning into a Phillies Philet.

You would be hard-pressed to find a better summary of last night’s Phils’ loss than the headline that appears on the game story on Page 48 of today’s Daily Times. My compliments to the guys on the sports desk. They captured the loss thusly: The good (Cole), the bad (Flash), the Uggla.

That refers to Phils starter Cole Hamels, who surrendered a first-inning home run than mowed through the Marlins lineup, striking out 13, before surrendering another run in the eighth.

The problem is that the Phils’ powerful lineup went limp against young Marlins’ starter Andrew Miller. They managed just four hits against him in 7 innings.

The Phils did manage to scratch out a run in the top of the 9th to tie the game, setting the stage for Tom “Flash” Gordon. In this instance, the veteran reliever who has been having a very good year might better be referred to as “Flash Fire.”

Gordon had control problems, consistently missing the strike zone. Not by a lot, but then again you don’t really have to. Gordon walked two, eventually loading the bases while getting just one out in the ninth.

Up stepped Dan Uggla. Gordon was actually a pitch away from walking in the winning run when Uggla put an exclamation point on a Gordon fastball. Call it winning Uggla. The second-baseman crushed the pitch into the empty seats in left, a walkl-off grand slam leading to a deceiving 6-2 Phils loss.

Along the way the Phils managed to waste a very good performance from Hamels. And the vision of Gordon in the ninth brought back a lot of bad memories. Then again, the Phils’ bullpen has been one of the strengths of their season.

The loss shaves the Phils’ lead over the Fish to just two games. It will be up crafty veteran Jamie Moyer to try to reverse the tide tonight.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Phils, who then head to St. Louis for the weekend. This is the toughest part of their schedule.

We’ll likely know just how good this team really is by this time next week.

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