So since that 20-run eruption against the Cardinals on June 13, the Phillies are 13-20 and, after today's latest painful loss to the Mets, finally have relinquished first place in the NL East. What went wrong? What happens next?
In a word, it's the hitting. Aside from the one magic inning Tuesday night, the Phils managed six runs in three games against their toughest divisional foe. This continues the lousy recent trend, which you've already read too much about--but suffice it to say that they've scored four runs or less in 22 of those 33 games, and two runs or less in 12 of them. Aside from Adam Eaton and Brett Myers, the pitching has been more than adequate--the team has lost three quality Cole Hamels starts over that stretch, three more from Jamie Moyer (including two against the Mets), and one from Kyle Kendrick. It's hard to lose seven quality starts in 33 games unless you're really, really not hitting. And pretty much nobody other than Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard have been particularly good since that game in St. Louis. As a team, the Phils hit .240/.313/.410 between June 14 and July 22, which was Tuesday night's win--so those numbers are even worse now.
Schedule has a little to do with it. Here's another breakdown of the last 33 games:
5 vs. St. Louis (57-46): 2-3
3 vs. Boston (60-43): 1-2
3 vs. LAA (62-39): 0-3
3 vs. Oakland (52-49): 1-2
3 vs. Texas (52-50): 1-2
3 vs. Atlanta (48-53): 3-0
7 vs. Mets (55-47): 2-5
3 vs. Arizona (50-51): 2-1
3 vs. Marlins (53-48): 1-2
27 of them have been against teams currently over .500; in those contests, the Phils are 8-19, and have lost eight out of nine series. Of the six games against Atlanta and Arizona, they've won five.
So now what? The next six games are against the Braves and Nationals. Maybe that bodes well, though I can't imagine they're going to sweep Atlanta in three consecutive series; I'd take two of three at this point. The Nats are a mess, but the Phils will see Tim Redding in that series, which means trouble. Then they've got a return visit to St. Louis, where all this misery started, to begin the month of August. Then a six-game homestand against the Marlins and Pirates, and then a west coast swing through LA and San Diego. By then, we should know what kind of stretch run we're in for.