OK, so the Phillies lost last night. It’s just one game, right? One series in July. No big deal.
Well, not so fast. It’s not just that they lost. It’s not even that they lost two in a row for the first time since June 3 or that it was the first time they have lost a series since June 17th at Seattle.
No, it's not that they lost that worries me, it's the way they lost.
It was way too familiar. Too uncomfortable, like another series they lost to the Giants. And that one did matter. It was last year in October and it ended the Phillies' season. Too soon.
And although Kyle Kendrick against Tim Lincecum looked like a mismatch from the start, this loss can’t be blamed on the Phils' pitching. It was the offense that let them down. That here-today, gone-tomorrow offense that for two games in a row against the world champions just couldn’t get the big hit when they needed it.
Kind of like that October series in 2010 that ended with a called third strike to the Phillies' big piece.
Now, I don’t mean to be overreacting here. Really. The Phillies do still have the best record in baseball and a five-game lead over the second-place Braves in the NL East. But I don’t think Ruben Amaro added Cliff Lee to this lofty pitching staff and now equally lofty $170 million payroll just to win the division.
We all know they have their sights on a bigger prize this year. And all the pitching in the world can’t win without runs. It’s not the pitchers who are expected to drive in those runners in scoring position.
At least the Giants aren’t that good offensively, either. That’s some consolation, right?
Now, Beltran won’t turn the Giants into an offensive juggernaut. (He really wasn’t a factor last night offensively, although he did make a great catch in right field that squelched a potential rally. And don’t get me started on right field defense. That’s a post for another day.) But he is a career .310 hitter at the Giants' AT&T Park. He also hits very well against the Phillies and in the playoffs.
So where’s the good news? Well, if the Phillies’ recent winning play had silenced the cries for a right-handed hitter, now they are back and we can hear them loud and clear. Ruben may need to pull yet one more bat out of his hat, preferably named Hunter Pence, before the trade deadline on Sunday.
Yes, I know I’m the one who’s always preaching that we should all remember to enjoy the ride. And I am.
I guess what I’m saying is that I just don’t want the ride to end too soon.