There was something about last night's game that felt oh so familiar. The team did nothing for the first eight innings, at least in the offensive department. On the other side of the ball, the team got behind early, played respectably in the middle, but still gave up ground. It took a 4-0 deficit into the ninth inning.
But then, in their last at-bat, the Phils' offense came to life, scoring three runs before a crushing line drive double play ended the comeback.
Sound familiar? It does to me on two levels.
First, it's a carbon copy of the Phils last few seasons. They fall behind early, stay competitive in the middle, make a run at the end, but ultimately fall short, often in crushingly disappointing ways.
But what I wasn't aware of until I looked at the stats this morning was that this pattern is also familiar for the year so far. The Phils have scored the fourth most runs in the majors so far, but have not done so in an evenly distributed manner. In innings 1 through 6, they've scored the 8th most runs, but in innings 7 and on, they've scored the most. (I can't seem to find a more refined breakdown by inning. If anyone knows where that is, please let me know.)
The contrast is even more stark looking at OPS. Overall, the team has the fourth best OPS in baseball at .786. But, in innings 1 through 6, they fall to 12th. As the night goes on though, they rise to the occasion, with the best OPS in baseball for innings 7 and on.
The problem, of course, is that, as we saw last night, the offensive surge toward the end of the games is not enough to make up for the pitching throughout the game. The Phils have given up the sixth most runs in baseball. With better starters than relievers (damning with faint praise if ever there were such a thing), the team is in the middle of the pack for runs given up before the seventh, but is tied for second with 97 runs given up from the seventh on.
Something has to give here. Either the team's offense has to pick it up earlier in games or the team's pitching has to give up fewer runs throughout the game, particularly at the end.
Or we're just going to keep seeing the same thing over and over again.