Some thoughts about the Phillies’ funk:
I understand why the Phillies have made, “That’s baseball,” their motto as they’ve tried to explain their unexplainable slump: there is no reason other than everybody has gotten cold at the same time and they miss Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco. And I understand why they have said, “We’ve been through slumps like this before.” Because they have been through team-wide hitting slumps. And in the end, talent always won and the Phillies always started hitting again.
But I also understand why fans are concerned. This isn’t just another slump.
Manuel loves to tell the story about how the Phillies scored 20 runs against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on June 13, 2008. He said reporters asked him afterward if they could score 1,000 runs that season, despite the fact they were on pace to score 875. Manuel then said the Phillies went in a slump to kill such talk.
The Phillies scored 31 runs in a 2-9 stretch following that 20-run effort against the Cardinals in 2008 — such a brutal slump that Manuel always, always, always brings it up whenever the Phillies hit a lull.
So then consider the Phillies have scored just 14 runs in their current 2-9 stretch, 17 fewer runs than the slump that is burned in Manuel’s memory like Black Friday or Joe Carter in Game 6. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is just the third time in franchise history the Phillies have scored 14 or fewer runs in 11 games. They scored 14 runs in a 0-11 stretch from Aug. 5-14, 1961, and 14 runs in a 2-9 stretch from July 22-Aug. 4, 1902. The 1902 Phillies finished 56-81 (.409), which was seventh in the eight-team National League. The ’61 Phillies finished 47-107 (.305), which was the worst record in baseball.
No Phillies team has been worse since the ’61 squad.
I understand why the Phillies are trying to remain calm and confident, even though they most certainly are pressing at the plate. They don’t care how many runs they’ve scored in the last 11 games. That’s in the past. But I also understand why we’re making an issue out of it: These aren’t the ’61 Phillies. These are the two-time defending National League champions, and they’re going through one of the worst offensive slumps in franchise history.
But after saying all of that, I think everybody should relax. It’s been a long two weeks, but it’s just two weeks.
Nelson Figueroa cleared waivers yesterday and accepted his assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. … I went to Rollins’ Basebowl Tournament yesterday afternoon at Lucky Strikes. Phillies ball girls Lindsay and Perrin wondered why I haven’t shown their blog any love. So check ’em out.