You may have thought that the Phillies hit rock bottom days ago. It was hard to imagine things getting much worse. And yet, it did get worse. After getting swept in 3 games by the Mets yesterday, I think we can officially say, here it is; rock bottom.
And it is not because they were swept by the Mets that this is rock bottom. It is because of the manner in which they were beaten, or slaughtered, if you prefer a stronger term. Murphy’s Law even entered the equation last night. Anything that could go wrong did.
Through the first six innings, we saw a glimmer of hope. The offense was hitting, Cliff Lee was pitching well in his first start off the DL; he even collected an RBI for himself. But not wanting to push Lee too hard in his return, he was pulled after 6 innings. From the time the 7th inning began, it was clear that the Phillies bullpen would pull out all the stops to LOSE the game.
Let me begin by saying I have never been impressed with Kyle Kendrick as a pitcher. I am sure he is a fine human being, but his pitching usually leaves a lot to be desired. He is inconsistent, he gets rattled easily and he wanders about with that awful, sad puppy look on his face.
And last night, he managed to impose the sad puppy face upon every Phillies fan watching the game. With a 4-2 lead to start the inning, before he recorded a single out, Kendrick gave up a double, 2 walks and then hit the 4th batter to force in a run. By the time the inning ended, the Mets had 3 more runs and a 5-4 lead.
But Kendrick was not done yet. He gave up 2 more runs in the 8th without recording an out. Jose Contreras helped him out and added a run of his own. Then Brian Sanches gave up a solo homer in the ninth. That is 8 runs out of the bullpen, 7 of them earned runs, which led to an embarrassing 10-6 loss.
The defense added to the humiliation as Shane Victorino dove for a ball which wound up flying right by him. And Hunter Pence dropped an easy fly ball that was right in his glove.
Manager Charlie Manuel was so disgusted after the game, he finally ripped into the team. Manuel said they needed to play better and prepare better. The preparation bit is what was alarming. Are these guys just strolling into the ballpark without getting ready physically and mentally? That sure is what it seems like.
That would also confirm my theory that this team is not focused and an overall sense of complacency has set in. Complacency or apathy could be occurring for a variety of reason including past success, arrogance about one’s abilities, off-field distractions, making a ton of money and the fact that many of these guys have already won the big prize.
While I would hate to think that about this Phillies team, the reality is that all of those factors may be playing a part. As an example, you know who is the opposite of complacent? A guy like Freddy Galvis, who is working his behind off. Galvis was a homer short of the cycle last night, plus his defense and intensity are off the charts. Why? Because he has something to prove. He is trying to stick in the majors, make a good impression and someday, get his payday.
Look around this team. Are there guys who look a bit less focused than others? You know how they say hitting is contagious? Well, so is complacency.
I would say a number of changes are coming this team’s way in the very near future. They have already sent reliever Joe Savery back to the minors. Michael Schwimer went as well. Here is what I think they should do: If someone is not doing their job, like the entire bullpen, for instance, then bring in someone who will get it done or at least give you a complete effort.
I do not care if they stock this team full of rookies. Because if they are going to suck, I’d rather see players out there who are giving it 100% and living up to their potential. This team has spent way too much money on talented players to be this bad. They need a shake up…fast.
Thursday is an off-day, which many of the players will spend at a Chase Utley charity event this evening. But on Friday, the Padres come to town and they need to be ready. Cross your fingers…
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Player photo by Jenn Zambri Photography