Heading into this weekend’s series against the Atlanta Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies had the opportunity to make a statement, and perhaps, make up some ground within the division. The series was four games with a DH yesterday. The stakes were simple: Take three of the four games, and maybe the mood around these parts will take a turn for the better. Might even hear chatter about hanging around.
No team seems to want to take control of this division. Why not the Phillies?
Didn’t happen that way. The Phightins were swept by their division rival and they now sit eight games behind the Braves who lead the NL East by a half game. And you know what’s to follow:
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) June 29, 2014
That hashtag might have some steam now. Maybe more than at any point of this season as the Phillies have dropped eight of their last ten.
There have been a couple of different periods this season where it looked as if the Phillies could become sellers rather than buyers for the upcoming “trade ‘em if you got ‘em” period. As Sherman’s Tweets, not now.
And how did this happen? Only two of the four games were decided by two runs or less including today’s 3-2 loss.
Game 1 the Braves jumped out to a 4-0 lead after an inning and a half. Philly plated a pair in the 4th, but could get no closer. They had opportunities in the 5th, 8th, and 9th. But in all three circumstances, lacking a two-out hit prevented a run. And in all three of these innings, the runner was in scoring position.
For the game, the Phils were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Game 2 (the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader) was even less close. It didn’t start out that way as Philly scored a run in each of the firs two innings. After that, it was all Atlanta as Ervin Santana settled down.
But the Braves half of the 8th wrecked the game. Reliever Antonio Bastardo could only retire one of the six batters he faced. Of the five that did reach base, all five scored. Luis Garcia was brought in to “save” him, but even Garcia unleashed a wild pitch to allow a run.
Game 3, the second game of the DH, was even less offensive (or more offensive depending on your view of the word “offensive”) than the previous. Philly only managed one run against David Hale, and once again, the Braves put up a crooked number in one inning to seal the deal. This time, it was the 6th.
Four singles and a double brought forth the three runs. That was more than enough for Atlanta. At the end of six: Braves 4, Phillies 1. Atlanta tacked on a Ryan Doumit solo shot to make the final 5-1.
And now today’s debacle. Wait. What? How can a 3-2 loss be a debacle? Oh, they can. The close ones hurt more than the blowouts.
The Phils outhit the Braves, 13 to 7. And wouldn’t you know, but the RISP bug got Philly again. How’s 2-for-11 sound?
In the 5th, Jimmy Rollins was on second with one out. He moved to third on a Chase Utley groundout, but was stranded after Marlon Byrd forced Ryan Howard at second. Howard was walked prior to Byrd’s AB.
Bottom of the 6th and the first two runners reach base. Cody Asche singled and Dominic Brown walked. Two on, no outs. What could be better, right?
A poor bunt led to Asche being forced at third. John Mayberry comes to the plate with two on (first and second) and one out. Guess what happened. On the fifth pitch of the AB, Mayberry hit into a 5-3 double play as Brown was forced out at third to begin the twin-killing.
A Howard GIDP ended a threat in the 7th. Philly had runners on first and second as Howard approached the plate. A chance to tie (at least) in the bottom of the 9th went awry. Again, the lack of a two-out hit served as the cold reminder.
So as the beginning of July looms overhead, the Phillies might be more in the mood to ship rather than shop.
I would imagine some fans will encourage it.