Another Annual Late Season Skid, or Something More?
It looks grim, but you wonder if this is one of those tease-me moments the Phillies have had in the past.
The Astros, who booked their October golfing and fishing trips in June, just swept the Phillies in a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies have lost six of their last eight to enter tonight’s series against the Padres at Petco Park (the Padres have the best record in the league, by the way) three games behind the Braves in the NL East and a half-game behind the Giants in the NL wild card.
Time to panic?
“You’re going to go through lulls,” Jayson Werth said. “But in the back of our minds I think we know that, especially after what we’ve accomplished the last three years in September, there is ultimate confidence. And that’s not an illusion because we’ve proven that. We know what we’ve done. We know what we can do.”
Before the Phillies overcame a seven-game deficit with 17 games to play to win the 2007 NL East, the Phillies had lost seven of their previous 11 games. Before they overcame a 3 ½ game deficit with 16 games to play to win the 2008 NL East, they had lost eight of their previous 14. Before they cruised to their second consecutive NL pennant last season, they lost seven of 12 to finish the season.
Is this current eight-game stretch their annual hiccup before they go on a tear? Or is this one different?
“The one thing about our team that has been really impressive to watch is the ability to turn it on when we have to,” Brad Lidge said. “I think that’s obviously what’s put us where we’ve gone the last two years and hopefully it’ll get us there this year. When our backs have been against the wall and when we have to do something we will do it.”
Before the Astros took it to the Phillies, the Phillies and Twins were the hottest teams in baseball. They both went 22-7 (.759) from July 22 – Aug. 22. The Phillies still would be hot if the offense had not flat lined. The offense, which cost Milt Thompson his job in July, has hit just .206 and averaged just 2.1 runs per game in their last eight games. The pitching staff has done its job. It has a 3.19 ERA in that stretch.
Petco Park is a great place to pitch, so you would expect Phillies pitchers to continue to throw well. But will the offense come around? The lineup has a great reputation, but reputations only go so far. In fact, just three players in the lineup are above their career OPS averages (on-base-plus-slugging percentage). The rest are quite a bit below:
- Jimmy Rollins: -.063 from career OPS (.765 career/.702 this season)
- Placido Polanco: +.002 from career OPS (.762 career/.764 this season)
- Chase Utley: -.069 (.896 career/.827 this season)
- Ryan Howard: -.096 (.946 career/.850 this season)
- Jayson Werth: +.068 (.842 career/.910 this season)
- Shane Victorino: -.021 (.770 career/.749 this season)
- Raul Ibanez: -.037 (.823 career/.786 this season)
- Carlos Ruiz: +.080 (.736 career/.816 this season)
The Phillies placed Danys Baez on the DL with back spasms. Antonio Bastardo has been recalled to take his place.