A loss tonight would mean the Phillies cannot finish April with a winning record.
A strong April was the arbitrary goal for the team that came within one game of forcing sudden death with the Houston Astros last season. They went 10-14 last April, and it was repeated all spring as a month they needed to attack, especially since most of their games were at home against weaker teams.
Instead, they seized March.
I doubt Bobby Cox has ever used goals like "hot April" as a motivator, probably because he understands artificial stimuli doesn't work.
Abysmal pitching is of course the main issue behind their 8-11 start, bad enough to make the no-name pitchers they’ve faced irrelevant. The Phils have lost games at home against, among others, Tony Armas Jr., Billy Traber, Scott Olsen and last night, Miguel Ascencio (reliever Ramon Ramirez actually earned the win).
They are 4-and-9 at home. Three of their starters, Jon Lieber, Gavin Floyd and Ryan Madson, have ERAs over 7.99.
Before the season, most fans believed starting pitching was nothing worse than average. They also believed team defense was a strength. That, too, has failed them. Offensively, they are believed to be a team that will score lots of runs, but have scored the third-fewest in the National League. How and when they score is another issue.
Everything is cockeyed. The manager maintains the Phillies are a better team than this. With five more games in April, I’ll set my own arbitrary deadline. Five more games to turn it around before I start asking "if" instead of "when."