Just realized the site has been experiencing some downtime over the past 24 hours, my apologies. We moved Phillies Nation to a new server and there were some issues. As you can tell, we’re back in business and the you’ll be happy to know the comment error has finally been resolved. Enjoy!
So the Mets completed their sweep of our beloved Phils yesterday and sent notice to start considering the Wild Card. In a game where Endy Chavez was awarded with Comcast’s Bud Light Player of the Game award, the Phillies made another valiant comeback but fell short. Despite being down by just one run, any chance of winning the game was pretty much negated by failing to have a baserunner after the fifth inning and having the last 12 Phillies batters retired. Charlie Manuel also bungled his job by using Shane Victorino as a pinch hitter in the seventh when he clearly should have sent Dellucci up though it might not have matter by that point. The only positive was Pat Burrell hitting two home runs but with rest of the lineup only mustering 4 hits, there wasn’t much chance of beating the Mets.
On the recent Phillies woes, Burrell commented, "We have virtually the same guys out there that we had last year. We’re just not playing to our potential." To which Marcus Hayes replied, "Maybe they are." I would have to disagree; the Phillies can be a much better team than this as evident by the 13-1 run last month and the occasional sweep of a team like Arizona. But while I believe their potential is higher than their recent performance, it may also be endemic that this squad will never consistently play to their full potential. That is the real story here and the one that we have been grappling with the past handful of seasons. The club shows signs of brilliance but then ultimately falls flat on their face when it counts. The Mets meanwhile this year have shown game in and game out that they want to win, know how to win and then go out and achieve victory.
It will be tough for the Phillies to get to that point, but there is a sense in the clubhouse that things need to change. "We’ve got to do something different," Lidle said after allowing 5 runs over 6 innings with four coming in the first. Sal Fasano responsed to yesterday’s game more belligerently, "I’m pissed off. I’m mad. I’m sick and tired of losing. We have too good a team to have this. Good teams overcome. We have to overcome." Halleluiah! Well, Sal, there is plenty to overcome: losing 6 of 7, a 9.5 game deficit in the division, a starting rotation that spots leads in the first inning.
The last point has a chance at redemption this Saturday when the Phillies send Reading ace Scott Mathieson to the mound against Tampa Bay. The 22-year old right-hander has gone 6-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 13 starts for Reading. Picked in the same draft as the Phillies other youthful savior, Cole Hamels, Mathieson has similar stuff including a fastball that tops out at 95 mph which he uses to dominate batters. He also features an effective a slider. Although he will face a weak Tampa Bay team, his opponent on the mound will be another 2002 draft phenom, Scott Kazmir. Maybe a series against the Rays is just what the Phillies need. But the "changes" that were suggested by Lidle, Fasano and others will have to be implemented soon because after Tampa, the Phils face the rest of the AL East – all of whom are currently closer to first place than the Phillies.