The offensively challenged Phillies and their depleted lineup (no Ryan Howard and no Chase Utley) brought a Ray Oyler-like .198 team average into Wednesday's matchup against Josh Johnson. No contest, right? Wrong. Johnson coughed up six runs on 11 hits and was knocked out in the fourth.
That's two outings now for Johnson in which he's allowed double-digit hits -- 21 in all. Keep in mind that Johnson, until now, had never allowed more than 17 hits in any two consecutive starts. Or ponder this: Johnson gave up the miniscule total of 18 hits -- yes, 18 -- in a dazzling stretch of six starts that comprised the entire month of April last season.
Johnson hasn't been pounded. Shredded is more like it. Of the 21 hits, 19 were singles and he hasn't allowed a home run. On the other hand, he's fanned only five batters (only one last night) in 9 2/3 innings, which is well below his normal strikeout clip.
Yes, it's early. Extemely early. We all saw how Javier Vazquez went from an early season train wreck to one of the league's very best starters last season. Pitchers -- great pitchers -- do it all the time.
But Johnson is coming off a season that was cut short in mid-May by a shoulder injury. He's pitching under a miscroscope, with all eyes trained on him to see how he'll bounce back. So far, two games in, the results haven't been pretty.
Is it cause for concern?