The last-place Phillies (5-7) have dropped three of four series, all because of the offense, and are sitting 4.5 games behind the first-place Nationals.
Beerleaguer: Embarrassing night, considering Cliff Lee became the first Major League pitcher in 18 years, or something crazy like that, to toss 10 shut-out innings and lose. It succinctly exposes - on a national scale - the futility of this lineup. The Phils don't have anyone to force the issue, let alone against some like Matt Cain. Opposing pitchers have no reason to give in. And all opponents need to do is endure the Phils' starter, even if it means taking them toe-to-toe through 10 innings. The Phils had just two hits through nine and finished with four. The starting lineup, and bench, earn failing grades through a dozen games.
So now the Phils face what amounts to a fairly crucial, mid-April, four-game set with a lousy 3-10 Padres team. They draw Joe Wieland, Edinson Volquez, Cory Luebke and Anthony Bass. If there was ever a time to take this new small-ball offense out for a spin, this is it. Sadly, it's also a litmus test. The Phils are in the basement, just like the Pads. Do they belong there?
If the Phillies dig themselves deeper this weekend, you'll start see folks wonder whether the Phils can actually hang around the NL East picture until Ryan Howard and Chase Utley return.