Ever since the Phillies started winning all the division titles and being good and everything, there would always be one or two series every year in which the Phils would lose to an inferior opponent.
In 2009, the Phillies rolled into Houston to play the Astros for a four-game series in early September. The Phils were 77-54 8 1/2 games in first place in the NL East, while Houston was 63-70, 15 1/2 games out.
The Phillies would lose all four games.
In 2010, the Phils arrived in Pittsburgh for an early-July four-game series with the Pirates at 41-36, in third place, but still considered one of the best teams in the National League. The Pirates, meanwhile, were 27-51.
The Phillies lost three out of four.
Then in August, the Phils hosted the Astros for four games at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies came into that series 70-53, 2 1/2 games out of first. Houston entered the series at 54-69.
The Phillies were swept by Houston.
Even the 102-win season of 2011 saw its hiccups. The first was when the Phils came into, you guessed it, Pittsburgh once again. This time, they were in first place, at 34-22, for the early June match-up with the 26-29 Pirates.
The Phillies lost two out of three.
Then, in September, with the Phils running away with the NL East at 94-49, they went into Houston to play, you guessed it again, the 49-97 Astros for three games.
The Phillies lost two out of three.
The Phillies enter this weekend as a .500 team at 11-11, having won three out of four games from the team many believe is the best in the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers. And while it's not clear if they're "good" yet, they're certainly feeling "good" that they're about to take on the worst team in the Majors right now, the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are playing every bit as poorly as their 7-18 record would indicate.
So obviously, the Phillies are either going to lose this series or get swept, right?
It would seem inconceivable. Arizona's starting rotation is a train wreck. Wade Miley has a 4.50 ERA. Brandon McCarthy's is 6.23. Trevor Cahill is rocking out a 6.85 ERA, while Bronson Arroyo's is an unsightly 9.50. And #5 starter Mike Bolsinger has only made two starts, but his ERA is 5.27.
Overall, the pitching staff is sporting a nifty ERA of 5.39, a 1.455 WHIP, and FIP of 4.27. Dudes, that's like early 1990s Phillies-Jeff Juden-Kyle Abbott-bad.
And now the Diamondbacks' top home run hitter, Mark Trumbo, has been placed on the disabled list, which should hamper Arizona's ability to score runs.
But as we've all seen this year, the Phils' offense can go into hibernation at any time, even against a team with as weak a staff as Arizona's. And the Phillies' bullpen can blow a lead to anybody, including a Trumbo-less D-Backs squad. And the Diamondbacks still have MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt and catcher Miguel Montero.
Honestly, the Phillies should win this series easily, and frankly, they could very easily sweep it. They might lose tonight with Fauxsto Hernandez on the mound against Josh Collmenter, but they should dominate behind Cliff Lee on Saturday and A.J. Burnett on Sunday. Phils hitters should get a chance to pad their offensive stats this weekend as well, hitting in one of the best hitters' parks in all of baseball, against a staff that is as bad as it gets.
Yet somehow, good Phillies teams, or at least Phils teams that are on a roll, seem to get tripped up in these types of situations. Houston isn't in the National League anymore and the Pirates are legitimately good, so maybe the Phils are about to find their new doormat-nemesis.
Beware the Snakes this weekend, guys, especially Snakes that appear to be dead and buried.