Delusions and miracles. That’s all that’s left for the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies.
With just nine games left in the season, the Phils are now five games out in the race for the second wild card after Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Braves. And, there are four teams in front of Phillies; the Cardinals, Brewers, Dodgers and Diamondbacks.
In fact, the Phillies need more than a miracle.
They need a bona fide divine intervention.
Despite another good outing from starter Cliff Lee (8 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 9H, 11K, 0BB), the Phillies could manage only two hits, one walk and one run off Atlanta starter Tim Hudson.
It was a team that looked as though they knew they were dead. And perhaps they all do realize that. All of them, anyway, except the manager.
“The noose is getting tighter but we’re still there,” manager Charlie Manuel said after the game. “We’re still breathing.”
Technically, that’s true. The Phillies have not been mathematically eliminated from anything. And as the Phils’ skipper, Manuel certainly can’t throw in the towel publicly, even if he is thinking about it privately.
But to think there is still a real chance of postseason play is simply a delusion.
It’s not a noose, it’s a guillotine. And the blade is about to be dropped.
It was a long shot last week when they moved to within three games for the first time. The odds became even longer when they lost three out of four to the Houston Astros. And the odds became almost impossible when they lost to the Braves on Saturday afternoon.
Sunday’s loss was just the final nail in the coffin.
But there is a bright side. Since sitting at 37-51 just after the All-Star Break, the Phillies are 40-25, good for a .615 winning percentage. They’ve played much better baseball in the second half, potentially setting things up for a return to prominence in 2013.
Unfortunately, the hole the Phils dug for themselves this year was just too deep.
This current roster is a .500 team. Really, that’s what they are.
In two weeks, when the season is over, it’ll be time to look forward and analyze what is needed to return to prominence in 2013.
But for now, it’s time throw Utley over at third base and see what he can do. It’s time to tell Roy Halladay his 2012 season is over, and pray that whatever has been bothering him (be it injury or simple fatigue) will be fixed by an offseason of rest and/or surgery. It’s time to get Darin Ruf some time in left field and the young bullpen arms some more exposure.
It’s time to plan for next year.
Because unless you’re either delusional or a believer in miracles, the 2012 season is done.