Slumping Phillies destroyed in loss to Mets
NEW YORK – The Phillies have crossed into the second half of the season and with that comes some good news: Only 80 more games of this crap.
Every day seems to bring a new low point for this downbound team. Swept in Miami over the weekend, the Phils got back to work Tuesday night and were completely dismantled in an embarrassing 11-1 loss to the New York Mets (see Salisbury's Instant Replay)
“We haven’t been getting blown out, but we did tonight,” manager Charlie Manuel said.
Carlos Ruiz’ 12th home run made it a 1-1 game in the top of the second inning and sent a brief bolt of energy through the Phillies’ dugout.
“We definitely had enough life,” Manuel said. “I guess the Mets just knocked the life out of us.”
They seem to do that a lot lately.
The Mets have won seven of 10 games against the Phillies this season.
But the Phils’ problems are bigger than that. They have lost six in a row and have tumbled 10 games under .500 for the first time since the final days of the Scott Rolen era in July 2002. The Phils are also 12 games back in the NL East. It won’t be long before we stop mentioning the division race. If the Phils get much farther back, they’ll have no chance of winning a sixth straight division crown. They could get Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay and in-their-prime versions of Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton back and they’d have a tough time pulling themselves out of this hole. The only hope might be the wild card. The Phils entered play Tuesday eight games back for the second wild card.
Before the game, Manuel acknowledged that this was the start of a crucial three-week stretch for his team. When the three weeks are over, the Phils will either have made up enough ground to have some hope, or fallen off the pace enough to convince management that it is time to sell off talent. Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino could all be trade candidates if the Phils keep freefalling. Heck, someone like Victorino could be dealt either way.
This was no way to start such a crucial stretch in the season.
The Phils’ bats were manhandled by lefty Jonathon Niese, who allowed just three hits in eight innings.
The Phils were 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position, worth mentioning because their current slump in those situations is 2 for 31. Two for thirty-one!
The top three hitters in the Phillies’ batting order – Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco and Chase Utley – were a combined 0 for 11 with a walk.
“Niese pitched a good game,” Manuel said. “Actually, the top of our order – the first couple of hitters hit it in the air. And he did a pretty good job on Utley.”
Utley is 5 for 17 since returning from the disabled list a week ago. The Phils haven’t won since he returned.
How bad have the Phils been lately? Closer Jonathan Papelbon has now gone a full week between appearances. He may need a mini-spring training camp to get ready to pitch again.
Howard homered in a Triple A game on Tuesday night. He’s close to returning, but needs a little more time (see story)
. It’s likely he’ll be back shortly after the All-Star break. Manuel was asked if he was tempted to push for Howard a little sooner.
“He had a tough injury,” Manuel said. “We’ve got to make sure he’s ready.”
Manuel paused and added: “He ain’t going to make a difference in an 11-1 loss.”
Vance Worley’s specialty is keeping his team in the game, but that didn’t happen this time. The righthander gave up 10 hits and six runs in four innings. He gave up five straight hits and three runs in the second inning. The Phillies, who have scored just seven runs in their last four games, all losses, don’t come back from deficits like that anymore.
“Vance usually gives us chance to win,” Manuel said. “Tonight they got on him. They were hitting the ball and hitting it hard. He gave up some runs.”
Worley said he felt good, but had trouble putting the ball where he wanted.
Cliff Lee gets the ball for Wednesday’s holiday matinee.
He’s due for a win.
Remember what those were?