Jul 24, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz (51) bobbles a bunted ball but throws out St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jake Westbrook (not pictured) during the fifth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
As John Mayberry fruitlessly dove for a fly ball in center field, both the ball and the Phillies 2013 season may have skipped right on past him.
The Phillies suffered their fourth straight loss, are now 1-4 in five games since the All-Star break, and fell 8 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East after last night’s demoralizing 11-3 loss to the Cardinals in St. Louis.
Perhaps the writing was on the wall all along. Before last night’s game, the Phils’ most consistent power hitter, Domonic Brown was scratched due to suffering from concussion-like symptoms that could keep him out of action until Friday. As a result, Charlie Manuel was forced to field a team that hardly resembled a playoff contender.
Things went pretty much as you’d predict.
Phils starter John Lannan was knocked around for four runs and eight hits in just four innings of work, leaving the final four innings in the hands of a completely over-matched bullpen. J.C. Ramirez was hit hard in the fifth as St. Louis scored five times off him, with three of those runs coming thanks to the aforementioned dive in center by Mayberry, which scored three runs and put the game, and perhaps the season, away for good.
"“Yeah, he’s got to keep the ball in front of him,” Manuel said after the game. “He can’t dive. I talked to him about it, but he knows. He knows. Can’t let that ball get by you. You’ve got to keep that ball in front of you.” – quote per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki"
Of course, you can’t lay everything at the feet of Mayberry who, let’s be honest, isn’t a center fielder. Manuel has been left with an outfield that is barely AAA caliber, and his lineup is a shell of what it’s supposed to be. He has a bullpen full of kids who can’t throw strikes and a rotation that has been inconsistent of late.
It’s unfair to expect the Phils to compete against the team that is far and away the best in the National League with the players it is putting out on the field right now.
Still, Manuel was not happy with how things transpired after the game.
"“It was kind of an ugly game,” he said. “It seemed like everything we did wasn’t good. We’d drop a ball, the next guy would get a hit. All kinds of stuff happened. We were definitely trying, but things just started snowballing and going bad for us. We played a bad game.” – quote per CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury"
There is just over a week left before the MLB trade deadline. And with each passing day, the Phils are pushing themselves deeper and deeper into the “seller’ column.
Perhaps the worst thing the Phillies could do is to try and add pieces during a seller’s market, especially since those pieces likely wouldn’t be the impact players capable of truly changing this team’s momentum. The worst thing they could do would be to give away minor league talent for a mediocre outfielder like Alex Rios or Justin Ruggiano and bullpen arms that are just as likely to flame out as they are to provide real relief.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, just keep humming along. They had 16 hits last night and went 9 for 20 with runners in scoring position.
That’s right. The Cardinals had TWENTY at bats with runners in scoring position.
Jul 24, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Laynce Nix (19) is unable to catch a foul ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter (not pictured) during the fourth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
The Phils, meanwhile, went 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position and have scored just four runs in their last three games.
Stop me if I sound like a broken record.
The fourth inning proved to be the most depressing when, after getting two outs and getting ahead of the opposing pitcher, Jake Westbrook, 1-2, Lannan walked him on six pitches. Then, with Darin Ruf playing too far off the first base bag, Westbrook stole second.
Yeah, the opposing pitcher stole second on the Phillies.
Westbrook then scored on a single up the middle from Matt Carpenter. If that doesn’t encapsulate why the Cardinals are World Series contenders and why the Phils are pretenders, I don’t know what else you need.
The Phillies still have one more game to play against St. Louis before traveling to Detroit to play the first place Tigers. Anything short of winning their next four games is probably not enough to truly convince Amaro that the Phils should be buying anything, despite what you may see on Twitter and the Googleweb saying he is.
The consensus seems to be growing.
The writing is not only on the wall, it’s on the carpet, the drapes and the ceiling.