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Phillies at a crossroads, drop crucial series to Braves

Posted by Dany Sloan On July - 7 - 2010

“Don’t forget what we’ve done the past two years. Don’t throw in the towel. Get behind us.”

Those words came out of Shane Victorino’s mouth after a frustrating 7-5 loss to the Braves tonight. Atlanta takes this series 2-1, sending the Phils to six games out of first place, sitting in third place behind them and the Mets.

After the game, the 80th straight sellout crowd let the team hear it, erupting in boos as the players left the field.

The night began with Martin Prado stroking a solo homerun, allowing the Braves to jump to an early lead. The Phils would tie it up in the second inning and then take take a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the 5th off of a two run blast from Ryan Howard.

Most importantly, after Jamie Moyer surrendered the early homer, he was locked in and cruised through the Atlanta lineup. It was easy to think that the Phils would stay on top since coming into the game Moyer had not allowed an earned run to the Braves over 15 innings pitched this season.

Moyer would finally hit a wall in the sixth inning. After allowing another solo shot to Prado, things unraveled way too quickly. After a single, double, and a walk, Brian McCann doubled to clear bases. Matt Diaz would follow that with a two run homerun, and just like that the Phillies were looking up at a 7-3 Braves lead.

While Moyer has been very good this season, tonight just wasn’t his night. With hindsight, it’s easy to say that he should have been yanked after the fifth inning as he had clearly run out of gas by the time he took the mount in the sixth.

The Phillies would add a run in the seventh off of a Shane Victorino solo blast and a Ben Francisco RBI single, but like many times in the last couple months, it was just not enough. Billy Wagner threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning to save the game, sealing the loss for the Phils.

Maybe it’s the heightened expectations we all have for a team that is quite good on paper, maybe even the best in the division, but paper doesn’t always translate to reality. And oddly enough, it’s not the bench players that are the most frustrating right now – it’s the guys that we expect the most from.

We all know the Phillies are a second half team, but watching them play right now is frustrating. It’s easy to point at one or two guys and say that’s who’s not pulling the weight, but in reality, it’s all across the board.

Utley, Polanco, and Ruiz are hurt. Shane Victorino is batting .252. Ryan Howard only has 15 homeruns. Raul Ibanez is the exact opposite of an offensive threat. Jimmy Rollins has been injured multiple times. Joe Blanton has been ineffective. The bullpen has been useless. The list goes on and on.

But most importantly, this is an old team. The only starting position player on the right side of 30 is Shane Victorino, who will be 29 for slightly less than five more months.

It’s not the time to panic or make drastic moves, but we’re getting close to it. The Phillies are by not out of the the division race, but while their competition has improved, they’ve stayed the same and in some ways have regressed.

When the Phils reconvene after the All-Star break, they could catch fire rendering this entire discussion moot. We know they have it in them, but with the injuries and performance issues, they seem like a lost team. They’re not quite in it, but they are by no means out of it.

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