Monday, August 22, 2005

A Fretful Week

I suppose you cannot complain about the Phillies 4-3 mark on this homestand. For instance, on the right, Jason Michaels and Pat the Bat seem pretty darn pleased that Manuel has not yet managed them out of another win. 5-2 is an aggressive mark in baseball- and asking for it is perhaps medacious. After all, the Phils are only nine games over .500 for the season- so maybe asking for three over in a week is a little rough. Philadelphia did make up 1.5 games on Atlanta, all the ground on Houston and knocked another week off the schedule. And the Phillies lead the wild card this morning- and thus all Phillies’ blogs are still entitled to post the Magic Number: 38

Still, it was a exasperating week at Citizens. You can’t help but think they left a game or two on the table. All three losses were very winnable games beforehand.

First, they played two series- and then lost the first game twice- despite having big advantages on paper on the mound, in each one. Consequently, all week it felt like they were traveling uphill- having to win multiple games in a row, having already surrendered a game they should have won- to get just the split (Nationals) or series win (Pirates).

Second, they sort of lost the game Lidle started against the Nats twice. The first attempt to play it got rained out, with the Phillies smacking the Nats’ starting pitcher around, up 1-0, two guys on base and one out. The came back two days later to try again. For like the fourth time this year, the utter idiocy of manager Charlie Manuel outright cost them a game. He called Urbina in, to make his third appearance in a game in less than thirty hours- and Urbina looked it. The Phillies surrendered the remnants of a four-run lead to a team that cannot hit- and that loss was both totally unnecessary and rotten.

And of course, there is always worry about the Phillies starting pitching when they come out and tank one. The Phillies had two starters- Meyers and Tejada- come out and be rotten this week. Since the Phillies feature few innate advantages in this stretch drive: tough schedule, lots of travel, lots of divisional games against decent to good teams, etc.- they absolutely cannot afford to have anyone, other than Lidle, come out and tank three or four of their remaining eight starts.

Meyers came back promptly and was wonderful. Tejada gets his chance tomorrow. I sure hope the rookie is good- as the Phils can’t win this with only three productive spots in the rotation.

The Phillies head out west for the beginning of a twelve-game stretch away from Philadelphia. Two weeks ago, I broke the season down into a pair of 25 game segments- and postulated Philadelphia needed fifteen wins in both portions to advance to the post season. The first segment is off to a solid start: nine up, four down. Accordingly, they need to play .500 ball on this grueling trip to get to fifteen first segment wins.

I’ll stick with that. Play .500 through here, they probably are just a game or two back of the Marlins or Astros- and still ahead of the Mets and Nats- with lots of head-to-head games left with each (three at home versus Houston). Fifteen wins then, with a majority of games in the second segment either inter-divisional or versus Houston, gives them an excellent shot to get it done. Even Atlanta is only 3.5 ahead- and that is no super team. A 7-5 trip sets the Phils up to play Atlanta for real in Septemeber.

RIP Coo Coo Marlin.