Pete Mackanin entered the media room at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night, sat down, put his hands down on the table in front of him and took a deep breath.
"You know, when things aren't going your way, they just – everything seems to happen," he said. "It snowballs."
That's one way of putting a five-game losing streak and losses in eight of your last nine games.
The snowball of losing continued to roll downhill and pick up steam Saturday night, as the Phillies once again fell to the visiting Washington Nationals, this one a 6-2 decision (see Instant Replay).
Over the last five games, the Phils have been outscored by a 28-15 margin. In eight losses over the last nine days, they've been outscored by a 44-26 margin.
But through Mackanin's eyes, that's all been triggered by something.
"We've hit into a lot of bad luck I think over the last few days," Mackanin said. "It seems like when you're going good, it snowballs. And vice versa. When it's going bad it snowballs. You just have to keep fighting your way through it and get back on track."
The latest stroke of "bad luck" wound up as the beginning of the end for Saturday's starter, Vince Velasquez.
Velasquez, who pitched into the seventh for just the second time this season, was having a solid outing, keeping the Phillies, down 2-1 at the time, in the game with seven strikeouts through five innings. His only blemish up to that point was a two-run shot to the scorching hot Ryan Zimmerman in the fourth inning.
After Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy reached with singles in the sixth, Zimmerman stepped to the plate and scorched a liner toward Phillies rightfielder Michael Saunders.
Saunders lost the ball in the lights above, allowing it to go over his head and roll all the way to the wall. Werth scored to give the Nats a 3-1 lead.
"That ball was directly in the lights," Mackanin said. "[Saunders] has been playing super defense for us. What a shame that was. That led to something."
Third baseman Anthony Rendon stepped into the batter's box next and promptly clobbered a Velasquez offering into the seats in left for a three-run shot that gave the Nationals a 6-1 lead.
Game. Set. Match.
"The ball to Rendon was a little bit inside. But when you execute a pitch like that and they do damage with it, you've got to tip your cap off to them," said Velasquez, who was anchored with the loss.
Velasquez fell to 2-3 while his ERA shot up to 5.94 after allowing six earned runs.
Counting the two-run moonshot he gave up to Zimmerman, Velasquez has now given up eight homers in six starts this season. Fifteen of the 22 runs he's given up so far this year have come via the long ball.
"Coming into the game, I was attacking the guys all the way through and had a lot of conviction with my fastball," Velasquez said. "Just silly mistakes – why I decided to throw those pitches. I kind of kicked myself in the butt for it.
"I've got to do a better job of pitch selection. They're well-located. But early in the game like that, especially to Zimmerman, I was attacking him all the way through. Why I decided to change it up, I don't know. Again, it's just you live and learn."
The Phillies, meanwhile, had major issues stringing anything together against Washington starter A.J. Cole, who was making his season debut.
The Phils mustered eight hits, but getting thrown out on the basepaths three times didn't help the cause. Maikel Franco was called for batter's interference on a steal attempt in the first. Tommy Joseph failed to attempt to stretch a single into a double in the second. And Saunders was caught stealing on an ill-timed hit and run in the fourth when Freddy Galvis whiffed on a pitch in the dirt.
"I wanted to try and get our running game going there and I hit and ran and Freddy didn't make contact," Mackanin said. "I'm trying to instill some confidence and a spark in us by doing something and it didn't work
"When you're in a good streak, you can squeeze or hit and run. Anything you want, it always seems to work. When you're in a bad streak, you try to get something going and it doesn't seem to work."
All of the losses over this stretch have come to fierce competition in the Dodgers, Cubs and Nats. All three of those teams have serious World Series thoughts and one has a set of rings to show for last year's title effort.
Still, a lack of results is a lack of results no matter the competition.
"It sucks, but that's all part of it," said Cameron Rupp, who accounted for the Phils' offense Saturday with an RBI single in the second and a solo homer in the seventh.
"[Washington] is hot over there. They're good hitters. They've got veteran hitters that don't miss if you want to say mistakes, even though they weren't. They were quality pitches right where we wanted them to go.
"It's one of those things where you can make the right pitches and get beat. … It's just part of the game."
So Sunday brings another shot at the Nats, the top dog in the NL East. What's Mackanin's plan to finally shake the voodoo spell of bad luck he feels has bogged his team down during this stretch?
"I'm looking at the positives," he said. "We've just got to keep battling and get through this little lull and get through this period and get back to the form we were in when we won six in a row."