"If there’s a bottom, this has to be it. I can’t imagine things getting worse than they have this past week.”
The above quote is courtesy of Jimmy Rollins (which came via MLB.com's Todd Zolecki), and it came following Sunday's loss at the hands of the Detroit Tigers, who completed the three-game sweep to send their heroes to their 8th straight loss and to seven games under the break-even point on the season.
Rollins, who has long been the mouthpiece for the Phillies, hit the nail on the head, because it can't possibly get any worse. I'm not one to tempt fate, but barring any sort of catastrophic injury to key players that have implications far into the future, losing eight in a row to essentially end the season for a club before the first week of August is about as bad as it gets for a team that just a few weeks ago looked like they might be in buyers at the deadline.
Thanks to an eight-game slide that marks the longest of the Charlie Manuel era in Philadelphia, the Phillies are all but toast in 2013. Not like they weren't already toast, but the 7-3 run to end the first half of the season provided some glimmer of hope for August and beyond. While they were always going to be a long shot to make the playoffs, they needed to come out of the All Star Break swinging if they wanted to have any shot at overtaking the Atlanta Braves or capturing one of the two Wild Card spots. And despite a blistering start to the second half that came during a 13-run outburst against the New York Mets, it's been a pretty pathetic showing since then.
In their last eight games, they've scored three or more runs three times. In the other six games, they've either been shut out (twice) or held to one run (three times), which comes out to an average of less than two runs per game. To be fair, they did face some really good pitchers, like Matt Harvey and Shelby Miller, and Max Scherzer, but it's still a rather pathetic offensive effort.
It came to a head on Sunday afternoon, when, after staking starter Jonathan Pettibone to a 3-0 lead, the team completely collapsed and allowed the Tigers to put up 12 runs against the pitching staff. The big blow came in the bottom of the sixth, when it took three relief pitchers to record three outs. The Tigers scored eight runs on only two hits, but were given an assist by the Phillies in the form of three walks and three errors, in what might have been the worst half-inning of the season for the club.
The Phillies did answer with a run in the top of the eighth, but it was of little consolation, as they were well on their way to a slide the likes we have not seen in years. If there was any hope of this team making a run at the playoffs, it was surely dashed following Sunday afternoon's drubbing at the hand of the Tigers.
Fittingly enough, news broke before the game that Ruben Amaro has notified other teams that they would be listening in on offers for players in preparation of the trade deadline. While the extent of the list is unknown, it appears that Michael Young is in play, while Cliff Lee is not.
After a much needed day off on Monday, the Phillies will kick off a nine-game home-stand on Tuesday, where they will welcome the San Francisco Giants for a three-game set. And depending on how Ruben Amaro plays it, it could be the last home games for several Phillies.