The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies have made a lot of history together over the last few years, with the Phils being the sole beneficiary of the past.
Four years ago, Philadelphia defeated Los Angeles four-games-to-one in the National League Championship Series and went on to the World Series. The Phils eventually won the Fall Classic for the first time since 1980.
A year later the Phils would deal the Dodgers a case of déjà vu, as they again knocked off the west-coasters four-games-to-one en route to their second straight World Series appearance.
Since then the Phillies have had the Dodgers’ number. Coming into this week’s four-game series, the Phils had won nine of the last 12 contests between the two teams over the last two years.
However, just when a struggling, injury-plagued Philadelphia team needed some wins the most, Los Angeles came to town and decided that now was the best time to reverse the trend.
The Dodgers finished up their four-game sweep of the Phillies on Thursday and in turn extended the Phils’ season-worst losing streak to six games. Four of those losses have come by one run, including the first three games of the series. The Phils ended up 1-6 on their seven-game homestand – a homestand manager Charlie Manuel hoped would have turned out a lot better.
“I think the fact that we have had trouble playing at home, I felt like it didn’t matter who was coming into town,” said Manuel following Wednesday’s loss. “We had to have a good homestand. Right now, we aren’t getting it done. It has gotten bad right now, but we have to come right back out and play (Thursday).
“Everything about our team is whacked up right now. Our offense, our pitching. Sometimes we don’t play very good defense. We actually aren’t playing good enough to win right now. That’s basically what it is.”
Adding to a laundry-list of problems, Philadelphia has not shown the ability to rally late in games. Whereas in years past the Phils always believed they could come back from any deficit thanks to their potent lineup, Thursday’s loss drops them to 0-23 when trailing after seven innings and 0-25 when trailing after eight.
To make matters worse, second baseman Freddy Galvis was placed on the 15-day disabled list after straining his lower back on a swing in Wednesday’s game. He will join eight other Phillies who are currently on the DL.
“It’s just another one of our guys going down,” said Manuel. “I mean, what more can I say? Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. They definitely aren’t going to postpone the games or quit playing. We have to come out and play. That’s how I look at it. When you get knocked down what do you do? You get up. That’s what we have to do.”
It is hard to expect a team to compete for a division title, let alone a playoff berth, when it has had players such as Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Vance Worley, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard out for an extended period of time. All-in-all, 13 different players are on or have been on the DL at some point this season.
It is starting to get to a point where anything that can go wrong, will go wrong with the Phillies. Manuel addressed that theory Wednesday night.
“I can say this, don’t expect us to be in first place right now,” Manuel said. “That’s kind of how I look at it. I mean we are definitely trying our best. I can’t get upset at that because I know our guys are giving us everything they have. We’re just not getting it done.
“I feel like everything that is going wrong, sooner or later it is going to be like the stock market and bottom out somewhere. Then we will start working from there. Hopefully that was (Wednesday).”
Things have kind of flip-flopped for Philadelphia over the last month and a half. While the Phillies’ offense has looked much better and the team has raised its batting average from .239 on April 21st (22nd in MLB) to .266 through June 6th (T-4th), the pitching staff’s ERA has risen from 2.41 (2nd) to 3.82 (12th) over the same time period. Having to rely on sub-par starters like Kyle Kendrick (4.44 ERA, .289 BBA) and Joe Blanton (5.27 ERA, .293 BBA), along with a handful of shaky middle-relief pitchers, will do that.
The rollercoaster that is the Philadelphia Phillies’ 2012 season continues in Baltimore on Friday.