Results tagged ‘ homestand ’

It’s A Trap!

Before the Phillies opened their 10-game homestand last weekend Ruben Amaro Jr. said a 5-5 mark “probably” would not cut it.

They’re 5-2 after taking two of three from the Braves last weekend and three of four from the Nationals this week. The Phillies open a three-game series tonight against the White Sox with an excellent opportunity in front of them. They have won 7 of 10, they are at home and they are playing a team with the third-worst record in baseball. The White Sox have the second-worst offense in baseball, averaging 3.78 runs per game, and rank 18th with a 4.07 ERA.

It lines up perfectly.

And there’s the rub.

A couple people literally told me before the homestand, “Watch, the Phillies will take two of three from Atlanta, three of four from Washington and get swept by the White Sox.” (The nerve of them.) What a disaster that would be. Asked about avoiding a letdown against Chicago, Charlie Manuel said last night, “We’ve got to play hard. We’ve got to outplay them. We’ve got to do the same thing against the Chicago White Sox as we did against Washington and the Braves. We’ve got to play as hard or harder. You don’t let up. You stay right at it.”

Take two from the White Sox and the Phillies enter the All-Star break with a boatload of momentum and .500. Sweep the Sox and it’s even better.

But they’ve got to avoid the trap.

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?

*

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.

*

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.

*

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.

*

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

*

The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 299 other followers