Two big pieces in Philadelphia's lineup are out, and a team that became a five-time NL East division champion with those two All-Stars fueling the offense is suddenly scuffling to score runs.
Manager Charlie Manuel has no answers—and no quick fixes.
Anibal Sanchez took a three-hitter into the seventh and combined with three relievers on a six-hitter to help the Miami Marlins spoil Philadelphia's home opener with a 6-2 victory on Monday.
"We're not hitting the ball hard enough to score runs," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Yes, four games is a minuscule sample size over a 162-game season. But for a team built around the long ball, three games scoring two or less runs with one home run is a reason to wonder how far the Phillies can go without Howard and Utley.
The first four batters of Miami's lineup—Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Hanley Ramirez and Gaby Sanchez—finished 8 for 16 with three RBIs and three runs scored. The Phillies have only four hitters with four hits on the season.
The Phillies didn't score until the seventh when Freddy Galvis hit a two-run double for his first major league hit, snapping an 0-for-12 start.
Galvis is subbing for Utley while the five-time All-Star second baseman rehabs his injured knees in Arizona.
Howard was around for the home opener. He fielded groundballs at first base during batting practice. He gingerly ran to the first base line for opening day introductions. It's still unknown when Howard will return to the lineup. He made the final out in Game 5 of the NLDS and ruptured his left Achilles in the process.
It was nice for Phillies fans to see him at the park. They'll feel better when they see him back at first base.
"It was good to see him," Manuel said, "but I couldn't put him in the lineup."
Manuel said he'd work on the lineup during Tuesday's day off before adding, "I still come up with the same names."
Those names haven't impressed over the first four games. Juan Pierre is batting .222, Placido Polanco is at .154, Jimmy Rollins at .250, and Galvis .077.
Manuel considered pinch hitting for Galvis in the seventh but kept him in to show he had faith in the rookie. In front of a crowd of 45,574, the 205th consecutive regular-season sellout at Citizens Bank Park, that move paid off.
The silent bats wasted a decent outing from lefty Cole Hamels. Hamels struck out nine, walked none and allowed four runs—three earned—in 5 1-3 innings. The two-time All-Star made the first start of a critical year for him. He's set to become a free agent after the season and should get a lucrative deal if he goes injury-free and puts up typical numbers.
Reyes, one of Miami's four big-name acquisitions, led off the game with a single and Bonifacio followed with a single. After a double steal, Reyes scored on Ramirez's groundout to second base. Hamels stranded Bonifacio at third by striking out Sanchez and Austin Kearns.
In the sixth, Hamels fielded Bonifacio's bunt, whirled around and fired the ball to first—with no one covering. Mayberry broke hard on the bunt, Galvis was late to cover first and Hamels never looked before throwing. Hamels was charged with an error and the Marlins tacked on another run.
Hamels stared into space after the botched play.
"I was trying to collect my thoughts," he said.
It's hard not to wonder how much Hamels thinks about his contract situation with each start. Hamels, who turned 28 in December, signed a $15 million, one-year contract in the offseason. If he has another typical season, Hamels should get a deal in the $120 million, five-year range.
The Phillies know what they'll get out of aces Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. But a lineup without any pop in the heart of the order has the Phillies faithful on edge.
"Four games into it, there's no reason for us to sit here and be in a state of panic," centerfielder Shane Victorino said. "Everybody, I think, is in a panic because we don't have the big boys. We all understand that, we all know that.
"We've overcome adversity throughout the years."
The new-look Marlins are trying to wrest the division crown away from the Phillies. Omar Infante hit a pair of solo homers, Sanchez had two hits and two RBIs, Bonifacio had three hits and Kearns hit a solo shot off Jonathan Papelbon.
Notes: The Phillies are 25-12 against the Marlins since 2010. ... The Phillies are 58-70-2 on opening day. ... The Phillies are two games below .500 for the first time since April 23, 2009 (6-8). That team made the World Series.