"No seriously guys, I really mean it this time. You have to play better. Listen to me, I'm not kidding around. That last meeting? That was just butterflies and unicorns compared to this one. I mean, I thought I was being serious last time but apparently I wasn't being serious enough because you guys didn't stop sucking. But this time I mean it. Please play better. Please. Please. I'm begging you."
Thus spake Ryne Sandberg at his second super urgent closed door meeting in as many months. Probably. Maybe. I don't know, I wasn't there. That's pretty much what "closed door" means. But he probably said something like that. And boy, did that meeting ever make an impact! The Phillies ran right out of that meeting, full of vim and verve to face the Nationals, and proceeded to get shut out for the eighth time this season and the seventh time in the last month.
Say it with me now: Woof.
But it wasn't enough for the offense to hit a total wall against Nats starter Jordan Zimmermann, who allowed just five hits over eight innings. No, the Phillies pitching had to also do its part on the other side of the box score. And by Phillies pitching I mean young starter David Buchanan, taking the mound in the majors for only the third time. He gave up seven runs on ten hits, adding more than two runs to his season ERA in just one game.
Things hadn't been going too badly through five innings. In this case, "hadn't been going too badly" means "only gave up four runs". I mean, it's David Buchanan. I'm not expecting genius. Four runs isn't technically insurmountable, though it's probably too steep a climb for these Phillies. Buchanan couldn't keep it to four runs, though. He served up two home runs to Ian Desmond and Anthony Rendon, putting another three runs on the board, and putting the game out of reach for the flailing, verveless Phillies.
According to Scott Franzke, tonight was the seventh time in 13 games that the opposing pitcher has taken a shutout into the sixth inning. As both Franzke and LA said, "That seems like too many." Indeed it does, gentlemen. Indeed it does.
It doesn't get much easier from here, folks. Tomorrow the Phillies will face Stephen Strasburg, and on Thursday it's Doug Fister. That's not great news for an offense that's struggling.
You know, I go to a lot of meetings. Maybe I should give Ryne Sandberg a few tips.