A reporter asked Charlie Manuel after last night’s 7-5 loss, which gave the Phillies their first five-game losing streak since May 2010, if it was good they were losing now and not in October.
Manuel looked perplexed. He seemed to be thinking to himself, “Uh, yeah.“
“Yeah, I think so, yes,” he said, which ellicited a few chuckles from reporters. “I think if this is happening in October I’ll probably be packing my car. But it’s not October.”
No, it’s not. But since the Phillies clinched the NL East in their 150th game they are 0-5. Some people think they’ll be fine. They’ll snap out of it. Some people think the Phillies are in trouble because they are playing their worst baseball at the worst time. You can’t just flip a switch. Charlie Manuel said he has seen teams playing great entering the postseason and lose in the first round and teams playing poorly entering the postseason and win the World Series. I looked at the last 30 World Series teams from 1996-2010 and found just eight of those teams had losing records following their 150th game:
- 2009 Phillies (5-7)
- 2006 Cardinals (3-8) and Tigers (5-7)
- 2002 Angels (5-7)
- 2000 Yankees (2-9, finishing the season 3-15 with a seven-game losing streak)
- 1998 Padres (4-8)
- 1997 Marlins (4-7) and Indians (4-7)
What does it mean? It only means other teams have struggled before, which maybe helps you sleep better at night. It is difficult to compare teams because each one had its own set of circumstances. The ’11 Phillies have nothing to play for and have been without their everyday lineup for weeks. That’s not to say they doesn’t have their concerns, but you can’t compare them to the ’06 Cardinals or the ’02 Angels (or the 22 teams that finished without a losing record).
The Phillies (98-57) have seven games to play. They need to finish 4-3 to set the franchise record for most victories in a season. Four wins in seven games (with three of them coming against the Braves) would seem to give them enough momentum heading into the postseason.
“We didn’t come into the season saying we need to win 100 games, we need to break the club record,” Jimmy Rollins said. “It was get to the playoffs, and we accomplished that part. Winning 11 (games) in October is really what’s most important.”