Joe Saunders is fast becoming a problem for the Arizona Diamondbacks after failing, once again, to give his team a chance to win in a baffling 8-4 loss against the Philadelphia Phillies last night.
Facing the Phillies with a chance to sweep, Saunders struck out eight hitters, almost matching his total on the entire season -- -- and somehow managed to have a bad start.
He was terrible throughout Spring Training. Manager Kirk Gibson went so far as to threaten his rotation spot. He's been mediocre for most of the season, walking way too many hitters and missing far too few bats. But how do you explain a ballgame like last night's, where he struck out eight but allowed ten hits and six runs in 5.2 innings?
Although the Arizona Diamondbacks got to Phillies starter Cole Hamels, scoring three runs on four hits in seven innings against the bonafide ace pitcher, they never had a chance to win.
The Phillies had a four-run lead by the end of the second and led by six at the end of the fifth. Jimmy Rollins doubled in Shane Victorino in the first, then scored with Placido Polanco after a Ben Francisco ground-rule double. Victorino added a solo shot in the second.
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Melvin Mora doubled in Stephen Drew in the bottom of the second, and Chris Young jacked a two-run homer with Juan Miranda on base in the sixth, each run scoring off Hamels.
Young added a solo shot in the eighth off Antonio Bastardo.
Juan Gutiérrez and JJ Putz each gave up a run in the later innings, during garbage time, but they were essentially pitching mop-up duty, so it isn't worth making much of their performance last night.
It's unclear what the Arizona Diamondbacks are going to do with Saunders, but we think he needs to head down to the minor leagues and work things out -- at the very least, he needs a mental break from his performance. Right now he's hurting the team, and there's no upside to letting him work out whatever problems he's having at the major league level. Saunders is walking hitters left and right and getting himself lit up, which is no good for anyone.