Usually, cooler heads prevail the morning after tough losses, but in the wake of last night’s 2-1 10th-inning loss to the Cardinals, exacerbated by New York and San Diego victories, there’s an uneasy feeling the Phils spoiled a golden opportunity, and are running out of time.
Final game of the series, not much hitting, stifling pitching, following two wild nights of action, led to a blah affair at Busch Stadium and some rather passive responses, including my own, during last night’s chat. The biggest crime was the Phillies’ inability to deliver with men on base. Chief among them was wasting Chase Utley’s churning triple with one out in the 8th, setting up their easiest opportunity to score off brilliant young right-hander Adam Wainwright. They were set up to score again in the 9th off Ryan Franklin and in the 10th facing Randy Flores. In what has become a rare occurrence this season, the offense came up short.
Meanwhile, the Phillies’ bullpen, which has dropped the ball all season, took the loss yet again. This time it was closer Brett Myers, charged with a blown save and loss the last two nights. Myers has not been getting it done, and it's becoming difficult to gage whether he’s cut out for this role. Does he have a rubber arm, or not? Is he strong enough, mentally, or not? Right now, the answers appear to be ‘no’ and ‘no.’
Heading into Washington, the site of countless low-scoring, bitter games, the offense could be smothered and the late frames presume to intensify for the bullpen. That’s bad news any way you slice it. Statements like these – “The Phillies know the Nationals will not be a pushover” emerge every Nats series and suggest the Phillies are the better team. Fact is, they play each other as equals. Considering the mismatch in bullpens, park factors, and the difference between a team out of the hunt and one fighting for their lives, the Phillies are far from the favorites.