Rockies ring up 18 hits and flatten Phillies

Michael Young, trying to score on Ryan Howard's double, is nabbed by Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario.
Michael Young, trying to score on Ryan Howard's double, is nabbed by Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario. (DUSTIN BRADFORD / Getty)
Posted: June 17, 2013

DENVER - Charlie Manuel made note of the scheduled time for the hitters' meeting Friday at Coors Field. Typically, the Phillies' two hitting coaches oversee the daily discussion. The manager appeared, unannounced. In no uncertain terms, he demanded improvement.

"He speaks the truth," infielder Kevin Frandsen said. "If you can't get anything from that, then I don't know what."

And for a day, the Phillies did. They rallied in the thin air of Coors Field. A morning later, 1990s rock music blasted in the visitors' clubhouse. The first pitch of a 10-5 blowout loss to Colorado was thrown at 2:10 p.m. local time on Saturday - the next 3 hours and 8 minutes were torture.

The Rockies pelted rookie Jonathan Pettibone in a six-run first inning. At least one Colorado batter reached base in every inning. Five Phillies pitchers threw 180 pitches to record 24 outs.

This was the Phillies' 15th loss in 69 games by five or more runs, more than all of last season. Their play is maddening as ever. Win five, lose five. Generate a stirring comeback one night, get pummeled the next. They are one game better than last season's pace. That makes them a team stuck in mediocrity. Can they escape it?

"That will be answered at some point," Jimmy Rollins said.

The first inning took 32 minutes. It decided the game. There were three hits, a walk, two stolen bases, a wild pitch, and an error in the top half. The Phillies scored just once. Michael Young was thrown out at home plate for the third time during this road trip. Third-base coach Ryne Sandberg sent him with one out. Carlos Gonzalez's throw bounced twice and still beat Young.

"If it looks like he can make it, I want you to send him," Manuel said. "That's just how it goes. The third-base coach was definitely right for sending him. That's fine."

Said Rollins: "That was not good."

That was just the start to this nightmare. In the span of six batters, Colorado hit for the cycle. The Rockies sent 10 men to the plate against Pettibone in the first and scored six runs.

The carnage was endless. Rockies pitcher Taylor Chatwood tapped one past the first-base bag. Ryan Howard bobbled it. He had no play at first and fired to home. D.J. LeMahieu scampered back to third as catcher Humberto Quintero threw it into left field. A run scored, and Chatwood made it to third. The stadium speakers played circus music.

Pettibone pitched for the 11th time. The opposition has adjusted - his ERA is 4.40. Just once has he completed seven innings. John Lannan will replace Tyler Cloyd in the rotation on Monday. Pettibone's status in the rotation is shaky. Veteran Carlos Zambrano has made four minor-league starts and could supplant the 22-year-old rookie.

In the fourth, Rollins fielded a routine grounder hit by Chatwood, the pitcher. Chatwood hustled and was called safe on an infield single that made it 10-2. The Phillies infield was incredulous. Jeremy Horst needed 41 pitches to survive the inning. As he departed the mound facing a possible demotion to triple A, one fan yelled, "You , Horst!" Everyone could hear it.

This macabre 11-day road trip concludes on Sunday. It will be difficult to surpass Saturday's ineptitude.

Contact Matt Gelb at Follow on Twitter @magelb.

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