The team that had its grip on first place — so long, long ago — has suddenly slipped out from contention.
Okay, so with the Phillies’ latest stinker — a 7-3 loss to the Marlins — they’re not technically out of anything. At 3.5 games in back of the Mets and four games in back of the Brewers, there’s still time to make up ground. Well, statistically. But we know better.
Brett Myers pitched well enough, but not as well as Ricky Nolasco, who seems to have the Phils number in 2008. Plus, Myers couldn’t escape the eighth, the inning that has completely murdered the home team in the last few weeks. Myers went 7.1 innings, surrendering four runs on eight hits. I applaud the fire in heading out for the eighth, but it wasn’t meant to be. Meanwhile, the Phils squandered all day against Nolasco, who got his outs when he needed them.
Criminals No. 1 and 2 for the Phils were Chase Utley and Jayson Werth. We don’t completely expect the latter to come through all the time, so for once, I’ll attack the former. Utley isn’t getting it done. He’s coming up short. Is he injured? Probably, and we may have to face the real problems in 2009. Meanwhile, he’s leaving men on base, grounding out and popping out lazily to end innings. And late in Wednesday’s game, like we all predicted, Utley and Ryan Howard were mowed down by LOOGY Arthur Rhodes.
Sad because these are the same freakin’ problems we’ve been harping about all season. Utley is hurting. Charlie Manuel needs to put a righty between Utley and Howard. The bullpen is in dire need of an experienced setup arm. The Phils can’t get runners home in big spots. As the games wind down the little freakin’ problems become the reasons for losses. That’s how it goes in marathon baseball campaigns. And yet again, we don’t know why, but the fans knew it all along, and nothing was fixed.
Look at the comments, peruse the other Phillie fan blogs. Most of the post-game speak concerns bigger things, all-encompassing discussion. Why? Because this latest loss to the Marlins seemed like the day the heart stopped beating. This was the day the Phils flatlined, rolled over and became pale as a ghost. While the Mets take care of business without flinching, and while the Brewers hijack late-game heroics reels, the Phils are shopping for caskets. Discount caskets.
The Phillies lost 7-3. Ryan Howard hit his 42nd home run of the season. Brett Myers was just OK. Jimmy Rollins went 0-for-4. Chad Durbin let in the go-ahead runs. Jayson Werth drove in run No. 60 for his career season. Whatever. Even if this team surprises everyone and sweeps the Brewers for a Wild Card tie, it won’t matter. While the media will say there’s still time, and while the Phils PR department reminds us what happened with 17 to play last season, we know better. We always do.
Associated Press photo