Searching for a Spark – Phillies Nation
2011 Game Recaps

Searching for a Spark

—Citizens Bank Park

Two hits. Two times a ball found a place where an opposing player was not. Two hits will not win you many games.

Two hits was all the Phillies could muster for 11 1/3 innings between Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon.

There’s only so much pressure you can put on the shoulders of giants. The burden of that weight can be overbearing for some; others can deal with it and work out around it, but eventually it’ll become too much to handle.

Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels are all nice names. They’re all exceptional pitchers who excel when the chips are down. But none of them are Superman. “Our guys are not gonna go out there everyday and throw shutouts,” said Charlie Manuel.

None of them can hit 40 home runs, steal 30 bases, or knock in 100 runs, either. None of these exceptional arms can morph their pitching DNA into a helix of hitting.

If they could, they would. Because the people who are paid to hit are not. For a week-plus, the Phillies offense could do no wrong. And then…nothing.

It’s been a trying time over the last nine games, but during Wednesday’s come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Brewers, they snapped out of their funk somewhat, although it took some time.

Placido Polanco homered in the sixth inning, the first long-ball since Sunday and their first run scored in 17 innings. Who hit the last home run? You guessed it, the Hank Aaron-like Polanco. The second home run today was provided by Phillies leadoff hitter Shane Victorino. Not exactly Macho Row.

It’s easy to remember watching the Phillies struggle in 2010 because the changes were so pronounced. Bad swings, lack of power, balls rolled over to infielders for easy outs: they did it all. It appears the virus that plagued them a year ago right around this time, has gone airborne in the clubhouse once again.

  • Ben Francisco: 3 for his last 21
  • Ryan Howard: No home runs in seven straight games
  • Raul Ibanez: 4 for his last 25
  • Jimmy Rollins: 2 for his last 20

When the Phillies hit, they hit together. When the Phillies slump, they certainly slump as a unit, too.

“Lately, we’ve probably been a little bit flat all around,” said Rollins on Tuesday night, following a 1-for-3 performance. He finished Wednesday’s game a flat 0-for-4.

Are drastic measures needed before an implosion occurs? Manager Charlie Manuel thinks they can turn it around, but right now it’s not pretty.

“Were kinda hurting right now,” said the skipper. “We got some guys we’re depending on to come through and we got some guys who’s had down years in the past couple years and gotta have those guys bounce back.”

Is this four-run explosion enough to keep the team from falling into the same type of lull they struggled through a year ago? “Baseball is a game of momentum, without a doubt,” said Manuel. “That’s why you stay with it, that’s why you grind it out.”

A cross-country road trip to pitching-friendly Petco Park now looms. “Grinding it out” and “staying with it” will be of great importance once they get there, or else another deep offensive slumber could take full form. Polly and Vic provided a spark today. It’s time to reignite the flame.

———–

Thursday: Roy Oswalt vs. Mat Latos

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