This is an interesting road the Phillies are traversing this season, as I was reminded this morning by the excellent Phillies’ beat writer, Randy Miller. The Phillies have stumbled over their last two years in June and July, only to reverse their course, climb back into contention in August and September and reach the World Series.
The team’s clubhouse isn’t showing any panic, nor sense of urgency, though the Phillies have always been an outwardly tranquil bunch in Charlie Manuel’s tenure. Then again, they have outdone themselves in players-only meetings in 2010.
What is different is the Phils appear destined to be shut out more times this season than they have in the past two years–but that’s a projected figure. What isn’t projected, what is fact is that the Phillies are 8-16 over their last 24 games. What is also fact during this 24-game span, as the Phils head into meet the defending World Champion New York Yankees tomorrow, is that in 18 of the last 24 games the Phils have been held to three runs or less.
The Phillies’ pitching looks decent. It’s nice to see Brad Lidge begin to show shades of his 2008 version, going 4-for-4 in his last four save opportunities. What’s a little unsettling is that the Phils feel as if they can just turn it on and turn it off anytime they want.
What they may tragically find out is that it doesn’t always work that way. It’s good they have a prideful, strong belief in themselves. It’s a little different knowing the Atlanta Braves seem to be more for real with each passing day. It’s an Atlanta team that has more than enough pitching to topple the Phils from their National League East perch, and they’re playing with the powerful incentive of knowing this will be Bobby Cox’s last season managing the Braves.
If, hopefully, the Phillies can somehow salvage these next six games with a 4-2 mark against the Yankees and the visiting Minnesota Twins, let’s see what’s ahead: The Phillies have San Fransisco in early August, travel to San Diego and Los Angeles (Dodgers) in mid-August, open September with Atlanta and end the season in Atlanta.
That doesn’t look too easy. Not to me, at least. What also has to be factored in is the much-improved Washington Nationals, when Stephen Strasburg is pitching, and the Mets aren’t as ugly as many predicted before the season.
Just turn it on? That easily? Maybe it’s an idea that the Phillies start looking at their situation a little more realistically. Maybe they should begin listening to their skipper, and come to the conclusion that 2008 and 2009 are seasons gone. Unless someone in that clubhouse has a time machine, nothing looks as if it will be changing anytime soon.