June 30, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (6) during the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
After Friday night’s 17-1 drubbing of the Dodgers, people were starting to say optimistic things about the Phillies.
People started to think the offense may have finally arrived. People were starting to crow about Delmon Young‘s hot streak. People were starting to wonder if Chase Utley‘s hot bat would be enough to fuel an offensive rebirth in time to secure a playoff spot.
People aren’t saying any of that today.
Two days after that blowout win, the Phils travel to Pittsburgh having lost the last two games of their series with Los Angeles. They are a season-low five games under .500 at 9 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East and 7 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot, with four teams ahead of them in the standings.
And now, they go to Pittsburgh to play the team with the best record in baseball (the Pirates are 51-30), have won 9 straight games, in a park where the Phils have historically been terrible (10-16 since 2005, with only one series win since then in 2008).
On Saturday, the Phillies went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base, falling to the Dodgers 4-3 in the bottom of the 9th. They were then completely manhandled on Sunday 6-1, registering only six hits. They allowed Yasiel Puig‘s sensational June to come to a close in style, with Puig going 4 for 5 in L.A.’s victory.
Through the first seven games of this extremely important road trip, the Phils are 3-4. After Sunday’s loss, the Phillies have now scored two runs or fewer in 27 of the team’s 83 games (32.5%). They are 2-25 in those 27 games.
So overall, the weekend was a huge disappointment, was it not?
"“I’m not disappointed at all,” shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. “This series could have been 3-1 in either direction or 2-2. They played a little better. They got the job done, and that’s all that matters.”"
Um, yeah Jimmy. Maybe you should just stop talking for a little while. You know, sit the next couple of plays out.
Look, if Rollins isn’t disappointed, that’s fine. If he’s fine with how that series in Los Angeles turned out, that’s cool.
But what these losses, which pile up ever higher with each passing day, means is that the Phillies are forcing Ruben Amaro to do something he does not want to do.
Sell, sell, sell, baby.
"“Basically, they outplayed us,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “They got on, they stole, they set themselves up to manufacture runs. They took advantage of the fact we couldn’t stop them.”"
June 30, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Delmon Young (3) misses catching a fly ball in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
In other words, the Dodgers played like a team that was playing for something. The Phillies played like a losing team. And that’s been the story for pretty much every series in which the Phils have played this year.
In fact, this is nothing new. Perhaps that’s why Rollins wasn’t disappointed with this weekend’s outcome. This is what the Phillies have been doing for the better part of a year and a half now.
Since the start of 2012, the Phillies are 120-125. They are a not-quite-.500 team. History has borne in out. And everyone who keeps waiting for the 8 or 9 or 10 game winning streak that’s going to get this team back in contention is simply waiting for Godot.
As Samuel Beckett said, “We are all born mad. Some remain so.”
In deciding what to do next, perhaps Amaro should pick up a copy of Godot and be inspired by the main character one more time.
"“Let us not waste our time in idle discourse! Let us do something, while we have the chance! It is not every day that we are needed. But at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us make the most of it, before it is too late!” – Beckett"
One hopes Amaro’s bluster about not being sellers at the deadline is simply aimed at throwing opposing teams off track. One hopes it is gamesmanship. Certainly he can see what is taking place out on the field. Certainly those baseball cards with all of the stats on them that Ruben uses to make his personnel decisions will be trumped by actually watching this starting rotation, this bullpen and this offense do their job.
Certainly, the time for idle discourse is over.
Michael Young is apparently highly sought after by both the Red Sox and Yankees. Awesome! Get it done, Rube. Chase Utley’s return from the DL has been accompanied by a terrific power stroke. Trade him at peak value and then re-sign him in the off-season. Jonathan Papelbon is a useless appendage on this team. Pawn him off for some top prospects.
Another weekend has passed proving the Phillies are not playoff contenders. They are one of the mediocre-to-bad teams in the National League. They now have a chance to re-tool and get better, with an eye on the future.
Charlie Manuel, while noting there is still plenty of season left, at least understands things are a little different this year than in years past, including last year, when the Phils were 14 games over .500 after the All-Star break.
"“We’ve always been able to go up, but we’ll see,” he said. “This feels different in some ways because of the way we set up with our pitching and things like that.’”“It’s a journey,” Rollins said Sunday. “You jump on that plane and enjoy the ride. As long as that plane is in the air, you have a chance to do something. Last I checked, we haven’t made it to the All-Star break. We’ve been in tougher positions with much less time.”"
Seems to me people were saying many of the same things last year. You know, when the team came up short and DIDN’T get it done.
No one would like to see a monstrous Phillies rally back into contention than me. No one would like to see that 10-game winning streak more than me.
But there has been no indication, Friday night’s 17-run outburst aside, anything like that is going to happen.
I feel like I’m repeating myself now.