The Phillies’ bats have gone cold

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Don’t kill the messenger. I merely pass along the observations of others about how the Phillies’ offense sucks right now, not to make judgments myself.  But of course, reasonable people can only draw so many conclusions from data.

ESPN’s stats crew — passed along in Buster Olney’s column today — noted that in yesterday’s Cards-Phillies game, Edwin Jackson threw 15 sliders out of the strike zone, and that the Phillies chased 10 of them.  What’s more, Jackson — not known for his control — went to only one 2-0 count.  Jackson basically junkballed the Phillies to death and they couldn’t lay off.  Especially Ryan Howard who went down on strikes three times, the tenth time he has done so in the playoffs.  Howard has the highest strikeout rate in postseason history.

Meanwhile, Matt Gelb of the Philly Inquirer points out that while Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley have gotten the job done as best they can, the Phillies’ 3-4-5 hitters are ice cold.

Having Roy Halladay on the hill for Game 5 may all but moot this.  After all, picturing him having some sort of disaster start is just not part of a reasonable person’s frame of reference, and you know that Charlie Manuel won’t take the ball out of his hands until the game is over or he hits 130 pitches, whichever comes first.

But in the off chance that Halladay isn’t Halladay, does anyone have any faith that the Philly offense is going to suddenly wake up?

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.