Can the Phils get out of this year with some dignity at least?
The Phillies go for a second win against the NL East leading Atlanta Braves tonight. Last night it was like a playoff game type of atmosphere. Another pitcher's duel had Cliff Lee locked up with Mike Minor in a battle of extra good pitching. Lee finished with 10 strikeouts before his night was over, the Phillies could only get more than 2 runs on the board for Lee, but that was all they needed to get Lee his 12th win of the year and the Phillies win #64 on a very disappointing season for them.
It was Cody Asche, the 3rd baseball phenom, for the Phillies who got the big hit that the Phillies needed to put them up on the board. The home run scored Asche's minor league buddy, Darin Ruf, in the process in a game that was super close.
What do the Phillies have to play for? Well, they won't be going to the playoffs so at this point they are playing for their own dignity and trying to get to at least where the team was at last year by the end of the season, which was 81-81.
How did this Phillies team get to this when in 2011 the Phillies won 102 games, which was a franchise record? It's kind of easy to see. The Phillies had a much better team in 2011 than they do now. A couple of players in particular were traded near the trade deadline in '11, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. They are bona fide All-Stars, not players that are hoping to make it big in the big leagues and are still trying to find their way in the game.
Ben Revere came over from Minnesota, he was absolutely terrible in his first couple of months on this team, he added no offense at all and only around a couple weeks before he got injured did he start to show that he could play baseball and make a meaningful contribution to this team. Revere was very good in the field, but offense goes a long way to win games, in 88 games played with the Phillies he had 0 HR and just 17 RBI and that is way short of what he should have been doing with this team.
Breaking down the agony, that was a disastrous time for the 2013 Phillies
The Phillies team this year was 48-48 at the All Star Break at the end of July 14th, it seemed like the Phils were going to right the ship and immediately after the All-Star Break, the team collapsed into a cloud of dust. Right now they are 23-23 in 1 run games, they have very little stamina to come back and win a few of those games, despite doing just that a few times in the past couple of weeks.
The Phillies started a road trip immediately after the All Star Break this year on July 19th and promptly went on an 8-game losing streak after winning the first road game against the NY Mets then being swept by St. Louis and Detroit. This trip broke the back of this team and they didn't stop there. Losing at that point became a second nature to the team, on July 30th their first game back at home in Philadelphia after the disastrous 1-8 road trip, they beat the San Francisco Giants. The Phils then went on another slide, the lost the next 5 games in a row.
Charlie Manuel didn't stand a chance, he had run out of answers for this team, he ran out of solutions. He mixed, he matched and nothing he did could help what was happening to this ballclub. With that final 5 game losing streak the team's record stood at 50-61, but the Phils weren't done there.
In the next 9 games, the Phillies could only manage to win 3 of those games. Manuel's fate was sealed. He was fired and the Phils record was an astonishing 53-67, or a full 20.5 GB from the Atlanta Braves.
It wasn't Charlie Manuel out there losing, it was the Phillies and it still is the same team and Ryne Sandberg's watch has shown this team to be 11-10.
Game 2 of the series with Atlanta tonight, if the truths of the season prevail, the Phillies should lose tonight, they typically are playing the first game of a series well and then come unglued for a while. We'll see what happens the rest of this series.