Phillies Need to Step Up
The Phillies have lost four of their last five games and their 8 1/2 game lead over the Braves in the National League East with 13 games to play has fallen to five with eight to play. They’re still in a great spot to clinch the division, but they’re making things way more interesting than they need to be.
“I’m not taking it for granted that we’ve got the division won,” Charlie Manuel said after last night’s 7-5 loss to the Brewers. “Noooo, not at all.”
That is a good thing because the Phillies need to turn things around in their final eight games. I have written this before, but it is worth repeating: seven of the nine National League champions this decade were playing great baseball entering the postseason:
- 2008: The Phillies finished a MLB-best 13-3 and won the World Series.
- 2007: Colorado finished a Major League-best 14-1.
- 2005: Houston finished an NL-best 13-5.
- 2003: Florida finished a league-best 15-6 and won the World Series.
- 2002: San Francisco finished an MLB-best 10-1.
- 2001: Arizona finished a league-best 8-3 and won the World Series.
- 2000: The Mets finished an MLB-best 9-2 in 2000.
Only the 2004 and ’06 Cardinals have bucked the trend. (Tony La Russa‘s genius?) The ’04 Cardinals lost five of their final seven games and went just 12-12 down the stretch. The ’06 Cardinals finished 3-9 before winning the World Series.
“You never want to lose,” Jayson Werth said. “It’s always frustrating to lose, no matter how you lose. But the good news is we are still who we are. We’re a really good ballclub and we’re in the driver’s seat. We just need to get the job done here. … As far as I’m concerned, it’s over when we’ve got it.”