What The Heck Just Happened?

manuel 062109.jpgI sense frustration out there.

That frustration is understandable. The Phillies have been in the National League since 1883, and fans just watched one of the seven worst homestands in franchise history. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong.

Raul Ibanez and Scott Eyre went on the DL.

Ryan Howard checked into the hospital. Twice. (The Phillies said today that Howard has acute sinusitis. He will not fly with the team to Tampa tonight, but could fly there tomorrow and play tomorrow night in the series opener against the Rays.)

The continued to play without Brad Lidge and Brett Myers.

The bullpen continues to be overworked because the rotation can’t pitch into the sixth inning. The Phillies couldn’t come up with big hits. They had physical errors and mental errors.

Let’s break down the numbers from the first 58 games, when the Phillies were 35-23 and had a four-game lead over the Mets in the National League East, and the last nine, when they went 1-8 to fall to 36-31 with a two-game lead over the Mets.

Hitting
First 58 games:
They hit .263 with a .342 OBP and a .462 SLG. They scored 318 runs (5.48 per game). They hit 85 home runs (1.5 per game), walked 226 times and struck out 380 times (18.8 percent of their at-bats).
Last 9 games: The Phillies hit .235 with a .309 OBP and a .402 SLG during the homestand. They scored 38 runs (4.22 per game). They hit 13 home runs (1.4 per game), walked 30 times and struck out 83 times (25.7 percent of their at-bats).

Pitching
First 58 games:
They had a 4.60 ERA, striking out 7.1 batters per nine innings and opponents hitting .267 against them. Starters had a 5.28 ERA in that span. The bullpen had a 3.45 ERA.
Last 9 games: They had a 5.97 ERA, striking out 8.2 batters per nine innings and opponents hitting .314 against them. Starters had a 5.37 ERA in that span. The bullpen had a 6.88 ERA.

Fielding
First 58 games:
They had 19 errors and a .991 fielding percentage.
Last 9 games: They had eight errors and a .977 fielding percentage.

The one thing that jumps out is the bullpen ERA. The bullpen held the pitching staff together through its first 58 games, but the relievers look tired. They probably are. And if the starters can’t start pitching deeper into games and the front office can’t find a starter before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Phillies might need to find bullpen reinforcements instead.

Yes, the offense struggled. Yes, the Phillies looked sloppy in the field. But I expect both of those things to correct themselves. This team will hit. This team will catch the ball. But will it pitch well enough to win?

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A reason not to panic: the American League is better than the National League, just like last season (the World Series notwithstanding). The Phillies remain one of the best teams in the National League and that should show up once Interleague Play ends, just like last season. Since the Phillies went 1-8 against the AL, the Mets and Braves are 3-6. The Nationals are 4-5. Only the Marlins have a winning record in their division at 6-3 since the Phillies started to play against the AL.

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Ibanez and Chase Utley still lead voting amongst outfielders and second basemen for the NL All-Star Team. Jimmy Rollins has fallen to second behind Florida’s Hanley Ramirez.

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I have not bought into the hype that the Phillies are less intense at home or try too hard at home. I just think for whatever reason they have played poorly at home. That said, I’m sure they are happy to begin a nine-game road trip tomorrow night in Tampa Bay.

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The seven worst homestands in Phillies history:

  • 0-7 – Sept. 21-27, 1964 vs. Reds and Braves
  • 0-6 – May 1-7, 1883 vs. Grays and Braves
  • 1-9-1 – July 6-20, 1941 vs. Giants, Pirates, Cardinals, Cubs and Reds
  • 1-9 – Aug. 9-19, 2004 vs. Rockies, Giants and Astros
  • 1-8 – May 4-13, 1937 vs. Cubs, Pirates, Reds and Cardinals
  • 1-8 - Aug. 20-29, 1979 vs. Braves, Astros and Reds
  • 1-8 – June 12 -21, 2009 vs. Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles

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13 Comments

To quote Willie Nelson “On the road again, can’t wait to get on the road again….” Let’s hope their road records continues to be as stellar as it has been to date.

I remember the ’64 streak all too well.

Does anyone know the story behind the game in 1941 that ended in a tie?

I would hesitate to say the American League is better than the National. They had no advantage here, not even their DH rule applied. Interleague play is sloppy by nature because it’s unfamiliar ground. That coupled with the fact that the Phillies have internal shakeups with their players being injured or ill is the cause of the poor homestand. Nothing to really worry about yet.

That was some ugly baseball. Proud to say I have seen 4 of those streaks, reminds me that being a Phillies fan is hard work and tests your loyalties beyond any reasonable doubt. Nothing like a pathetic homestand like that to recapture the cynicism that last year shoved to the recesses of my brain. I’m now fully cured from last year’s exploits, time to start questioning the team and ripping them when called for. I’ve had enought of JRoll, move him to 6th until he gets over .250 and shows more discipline at the plate than a Babe Ruth level player. Werth, Howard and Utley, stop taking balls right over the plate and swinging at every low ball thrown to you, you all are suffering from the Pat Burrell virus. Charlie, when it is obvious a pitcher doesn’t have it, pull him before they turn a 1 run inning into a 5 run inning. And as much as I hate to say it, time for Coste to start hitting or take the bus to Lehigh Valley. Ruben, damn the arbitration clock and start bringing some fresh pitchers up for a look, they can’t be any worse than what we have seen to date. Ok, I’m done. Well probably not…LOL!

its clear that the American League is better than the National League is not only the Phillies that are stuggulig agisnt an AL team. Every single NL team out there except the Rockies that have a good record agsint the AL. But the Phillies should have won more games in this homestand. They are a better team than they’ve shown the last couple of days. The good news is htat they are stil in first palce.

Forgetting for a momment how awful this homestand was (and it was very awful), let’s deal with the AL vs NL bragging rights. The AL has an inborn advantage in interleague games. If it’s in an AL park, the DH ruins all the NL’s stategic advantages. No need for double switches, no need to yank a pitcher throwing a great game in order to PH to generate a run (witness last nights’ game when we yanked Cole though he was pitching a wonderful game).

When the AL plays the NL in a NL park, the extra bench players give the AL a clear advantage. Being able to carry 1-2 less pitchers thanks to teh DH, they have more PH options and more defensive options then NL teams. This, in addition to the fact that they have a player used to getting off the benck to hit only and he has the same numbr of ABs as starters. Imaging Dobbs being the PH but having as many ABs as Howard or Werth. lear advantage not due to players or managers etc but only due to the stupid difference of rules

I was thinking today about how “lucky” I am to have attended the final game in each of the two most recent horrific home stands we have had in club history.

My family and I were at yesterday’s game to witness firsthand the conclusion of a 1-8 homestand. While it was great to see Hamels pitch like he did, the sleepwalking offense really sapped any positive energy he was able to generate………..

We were also in attendance in 2004 when the Phils put the finishing touches on a 1-9 homestand by turning what looked like an easy victory into a loss by coughing up 7 runs in the 7th, 2 runs in the 8th, and dropping the final game to the Astros………..

Ah, special memories…………..

I only wish my father was enough of a fan to have taken me to the final game of the only other horrendous homestand in my lifetime, which was a loss to the Reds in 1979 that wrapped up another 1-8 homestand…………….

Oh well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad (the ’64 homestand pre-dates me by just a few years).

Tim Kurkjian of ESPN’s KURKGEMS said that the Phils are the first team to ever go 1-8 during any homestand in the season following a WS victory. Let’s face it: without Raul and Ryan in the line-up, we aren’t any better than the Giants when it comes to offensive production. If we had the Giants’ starting pitching, we’d have a chance to win. We don’t, so we don’t. Fortunately, Ryan will be back in the line soon, hopefully tomorrow. Raul should also be back soon, hopefully fully-recovered from all his injuries. We can’t rely on the Mets continuing to match us loss-for-loss. 12 games over .500 would’ve be nice. Let’s see what the Phils can do to salvage their first-half of the season……

The Phillies are adapting to some unconventional ways here in June. I don’t think they care for interleague play. No excuses, but I think they’ll be alright, streaks are part of a season in baseball. We were just witness to one of the weirdest homestands most of us have ever seen.

If you saw Sunday’s game, everything went right for Baltimore, and practically nothing went right for the Phils. The Phillies batters need to start disrespecting some of these pitchers and go for base hits and try to move runners. Take it down to basics, get a hit, move the runner, score a run – then repeat. Rollins needs to get out of this funk he is in. Out of all the players, I think he sets the tone for the ballclub, and needs to step it up!

Check out my post, in two parts, “Anatomy of a Losing Streak” on my blog at http://www.fightinphillies.com

Bullpen and defense. The bullpen I can almost understand considering the injuries and the amount of innings they have had to pitch. But there is no excuse for the the defense. The went from the best in the league to worse than average in a very short time.

I do not know why the defense needs an excuse. Tops in the NL in fielding percentage and tied for 3rd in the ML. What gives?

The losing streak coincides with the breakdown of the defense. It’s probably not not a coincidence.

When the defense makes eight errors in nine games after making only 19 in the first 58, methinks you can point to the defense as part of the recent problem. No excuse for the lack of focus. The play where Sceruto went to second on a WALK exemplifies the lack of focus. I don’t even know if his advance to second is considered an error, but it certainly was one in my mind. I don’t know why it is happening, but maybe the stress of playing with runners on all the time is a factor.

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