The Phillies have had a problem scoring runners in scoring position a lot this year. It's the same problem that they had in the World Series last year. If you remember, that's what all the talk was about. Somehow the Phillies found ways to win the World Series last year, but that problem of scoring RISP, or runners in scoring position, still haunts the team. The Phillies do have explosive potential, and they hit a lot of home runs. You can't always live on the home run though as the Phillies found out last night when they lost 9-1 to the Atlanta Braves after the game was called in the 8th inning.
Cliff Lee got his first loss as a Phillie, and he looked human for the first time out there for the Phils. Before this game, Lee looked as if he was invincible and unstoppable. He is still a great pitcher, and he'll shrug this loss off and move on. The question is why can't the Phillies score with any other method than the home run? Has the team become dependent on the home run as an easier means to put runs on the scoreboard?
The Phillies are 6-4 in their last 10 games, they are also 33-30 at home this season. With last night's loss, the Braves moved to 7.0 games behind the Phillies. The magic number is 28 - that is 28 games that either the Phillies win and Atlanta loses and the Phillies will win the division. This number changes and so do the teams involved sometimes, but for now it is 28. Atlanta Braves player Matt Diaz is quoted as saying, "We're going to be hopefully relevant down the stretch and we're going to have some fun games in September."
The Phillies play on Sunday Night Baseball tonight, a national broadcast. The team has played on this national stage a couple times this season and they are 2-1 in those games.
ESPN Sunday night games 2009 with Phillies:
Apr 5 - vs. Atlanta -Phils lose MLB opening night at home -4-1
Jun 7 -vs. Los Angeles -Phils whipped the Dodgers in LA - 7-2
Aug 16 - vs. Atlanta - Phils win rain delayed game - 4-1
(click links to see boxscores of each game)
Hard to believe it but ESPN Sunday Night Baseball is in it's 20th season, hey I remember when it first started and it doesn't seem that long ago!
So for now the Phillies have been in first place for 105 days, they have been as high as 8 games ahead of the nearest team and that happened to be the Braves on Aug. 28.