By SAMUEL BOTWINICK | Staff Writer
March 3, 2014, 4:15 p.m.
After surrendering two earned runs in his debut as a Phillie, it was crucial that Roberto Hernandez bounce back on Monday, and prove why he was worth the $4.5 million that he was owed. He did just that, tossing three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, and striking out three, against his former team, the Rays.
It wasn't enough to win, though, as he and the Phillies fell to the Rays 6-1 at Charlotte Sports Park.
Matt Moore, who opposed Hernandez, received a no-decision, tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings on two hits, while fanning a pair, and walking one.
The Phillies only mustered one run on offense, and it eventually came back to haunt them.
After the famed, and, at one point, underrated, Heath Bell, came in to relieve C.J. Riefenhauser in the top of the fourth, Bell allowed a double to the Phillies' right fielder, Leandro Castro. Castro scored on consecutive singles by Freddy Galvis and Wil Nieves, to give the Phillies a 1-0 advantage.
The offensive struggles for the Phillies continued on Monday. Even though they were 3-7 with runners in scoring position, the Phillies left nine men on base, and scored only one run on seven hits.
The Phillies offense was saved only by the good grace of the bullpen, who through the three innings after Hernandez left, did a masterful job. Relievers Jeff Manship and Phillippe Aumont each pitched superbly, not allowing a single run in three combined innings of work.
Manship tossed two innings, yielding just one hit, while punching out two batters. Aumont tossed one perfect inning.
In typical Phillies' fashion, it was only a matter of time before one pitcher in the bullpen destroyed the wonderful masterpiece. That goat on Monday happened to be Michael Stutes, although he had the offense to partially blame for that.
In the bottom of the seventh, after Stutes replaced Aumont, Stutes walked the Ray's left fielder, Justin Christian. This was the start of a series of unfortunate events for Stutes and the Phillies.
Christian advanced to third on Ray's right fielder, Jeremy Moore's, double, and scored on Vince Belnome's ground-out to first, to tie the game at 1.
The scoring would not stop there, though. After loading the bases, Stutes became the pitcher who kept on giving. First, he yielded a single to Ray Olmedo, which enabled Belnome and Eddy Rodriguez to score. Both runners reached first on fielder's choices.
That would have been enough to ensure a win considering the Phillies' lack of any sort of offensive production, but the Rays were merciless. With Stutes still in the game, Rays' second baseman, Cole Figueroa, doubled to score Sands and Olmedo, and give the Rays an even larger lead, 5-1. Sands was walked earlier in the inning to load the bases for Olmedo.
Stutes suffered the loss, as he labored through one intense inning, surrendering five earned runs on three hits, while walking two.
Rays' reliever, Merrill Kelly, who won the game, tossed two scoreless innings on one hit, striking out one and walking one.
News and Notes: The Phillies will look to avoid another loss when they travel back to Bright House Field to play the Blue Jays on Tuesday at 6:35 p.m.