The Slow Demise of Raul Ibanez, and Inconvenient Slumps
You can point to a lot of different reasons for the Phils' recent struggles (injuries being the most notable), but Raul Ibanez and lack of support for the top of the rotation have to be up there as well.
Ryan Lawrence of the Delco Times points out that the Phillies were just 9-14 since May 12th when Halladay and Hamels took the mound. The two combined for a 2.92 ERA during that time.
Obviously, that trend didn't change this weekend, with the Phils not scoring until the 9th for Hamels on Saturday, and getting blown out on Sunday.
It's not uncommon for teams to "relax" when their ace takes the hill, but the Phillies have literally left wins on the board by not supporting outstanding pitching.
In other news, the slow transformation of Raul Ibanez into an everyday player is in full swing. Ben Francisco played left field two of the last three games against lefties. Manuel contends that he is just trying to get Francisco at-bats, but with the way Ibanez has been hitting, this feels more like a platoon situation:
“Every now and then, I’ve got to get Ben in a game,” Manuel said of Francisco, who was a starter for the Cleveland Indians before coming to Philadelphia in the Cliff Lee trade a year ago. “If he’s going to come off the bench and hit for us, he’s going to have to get in a game. To me, against a lefty is the best time to do it.”