Phillies 1st Losing Month Since 2009

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How good have the Phillies been over recent years? Well, in April of 2012 they finished with a losing record, and it was the first time that happened since June of 2009.

That's pretty impressive, even if the team's 11-12 record and fourth-place standing in the NL East is not.

The last time the Phillies had a losing April? That came in 2007, when they went 11-14 in the first month of the season. That year, the Phillies scored 123 runs and allowed 121 runs in April. That year, Cole Hamels was just 23 and Jamie Moyer was the de facto ace of the staff, while Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins were all in their prime.

This year? The Phillies limped to an 11-12 record in April while scoring just 76 runs (!) and allowing 78. Obviously they played in two less games than they did in 2007, but you don't normally score 47 runs in a pair of games. The Phils have clearly shifted the focus of the team, with the rotation featuring a trio of aces (though Cliff Lee is hurt) and the batting order aging quickly.

The result's been a lineup that isn't scoring runs. Or even hitting the ball hard. Just ask Charlie Manuel.

"We didn't hit a ball hard," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I expect us to score runs and I expect us to hit balls hard. But if we don't hit the ball hard... at times, you can have some luck hits and things can go your way. At the same time, you've got to hit some balls hard in the game, consistently move the ball a little bit, especially at the major league level."

The most terrifying part about the Phillies struggles is that they've had a pretty easy schedule thus far: the Cubs, Padres, Mets and Pirates aren't exactly murderer's row, and they Phils went 6-8 against that lot. 

It's not the end of the world, because teams that win in April don't necessarily end up playing in October. And the Phillies are still just 3.5 games back of the NL East-leading Washington Nationals (soak that sentence in).

But a look at the stats and the run production and the fact that the Phillies just endured their first losing April in five years, and it's not hard to see the end of an era approaching.

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