DURING THE peak years of the Phillies' current era of contention, it was easy to take for granted the pristine defense that fans at Citizens Bank Park witnessed on a daily basis. Most games, you could count on a good-to-great defender at second base (Chase Utley), shortstop (Jimmy Rollins), third base (Pedro Feliz, Placido Polanco), centerfield (Shane Victorino), and rightfield (Jayson Werth).
As you may have noticed Thursday, times have changed. In an 8-3 loss to the Dodgers, the Phillies committed three errors, all of them charged to players who were filling in for injured regulars. The most detrimental sequence occurred in the fourth inning, as fill-in third baseman Ty Wigginton booted two straight ground balls to start the inning. Not only did the errors allow the Dodgers to score a crucial unearned run, they forced lefthander Cole Hamels to throw 13 extra pitches, 10 of them with a potential second run in scoring position. Instead of entering the sixth inning with 64 pitches, he entered with 77. Whether the extra workload made a difference is impossible to tell, but the Dodgers used a walk and four singles to score three runs, taking a 4-3 lead and forcing Hamels to throw 30 pitches in what would prove to be his final inning of work.