While the Mets were busy beating the Braves on a game-winning hit that got lost in the lights, an unlucky eighth inning contributed to the Phillies undoing in a 4-3 loss to Washington. But it's mostly on the offense again.
They came within six outs of nailing down a sweep, couldn't hold it, it happens, but happens less when you score more than three runs, which the Phils can't do. I’m pretty set on taking out my frustration on Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins today, who did nothing this series. Others have worked out the projected strikeouts and Howard stands to whiff 213 times, compounding problems for a team struggling to even put the ball in play. Howard’s unsightly .791 OPS tells the story of a cleanup hitter who’s been perpetually out of sorts all season, and we could say the same thing about Rollins, who’s hitting .261 and has just three hits and a run in his last eight games. J-Roll has 56 runs this season, fifth on the team, after crossing home 139 times in 2007.
Afterward, Jamie Moyer, the only player who would reportedly talk to the media, spoke of players putting too much pressure on themselves. I believe him. The tight play is reminiscent of the pre-Aaron Rowand Phils, who still scored runs, but seemed to get tight for long stretches. But never this long. The Phils have scored three or fewer runs in 52 of their 127 games, which is 41 percent, with recent futility coming at the hands of cellar-dwelling Pittsburgh, San Diego and Washington. Take away unreal opening months from Pat Burrell and Chase Utley and you wouldn’t even call this an average offense. And it’s a joyless group to watch. The tension is palpable. You start to wonder whether Charlie Manuel’s alleged ability to get these guys to loosen up is overrated. I've decided that Manuel is a motivational non-factor. I can’t get around what many of the beat writers said about Rowand, that you couldn’t put a price on his presence. And I’m just a little tired of sloppy defense. Chase Utley and Howard have taken backward steps this season.