I wrote about this last week, but it bears repeating: There is no such thing as an easy stretch in baseball. It doesn’t matter what the other team’s roster looks like, or who your team is starting. Baseball is a funny sport, and the best team doesn’t always have the best score after 27 outs.
The Philadelphia Phillies demonstrated this over the past week by going 2-4 against the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates, two teams with a combined record of 54-63, but also with just enough of an annoying streak to send the Phils to a pair of annoying series losses.
Predictably, the problem was the offense. Poor pitching was to blame in two of the losses – Cliff Lee’s 5.1 IP, 6 ER vs. Washington, Kyle Kendrick’s 5 IP, 4 ER start vs. Pittsburgh – but the other four games were decided by the bats. In the two wins, they put up double digits in hits. In the two losses, they totaled 11 hits and lost both games by a score of 2-1.
It’s been that kind of season for the Phillies, who are only recently able to put their full lineup on the field for the first time this season – something that came to a screeching halt on Saturday, when Jimmy Rollins left with a leg injury – but it seems like it’s feast or famine with the starting nine. The starting pitching is going to keep them in just about every game, and the question is whether or not the bats can string together a few hits when it matters.
The good news is that the closest competition – the Atlanta Braves and Florida Marlins – were similarly afflicted with the losing bug, and didn’t fully take advantage of the Phils’ recent skid. It’s way too early to be scoreboard watching, but a 10 game winning streak could do wonders for this team (and for the nerves of the fans).
They open up an 11-game homestand on Monday night, starting with three against the Los Angeles Dodgers, followed by four with the Chicago Cubs and Florida Marlins.