Don't Worry Phillies Fans, What Could Happen?

Scott EisenlohrAnalyst ISeptember 22, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 24:  Brad Lidge #54 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches  against the New York Yankees on May 24, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The Philadelphia Phillies have an eight-game lead in the National League East and their magic number to clinch the division is down to six with 14 games to play.

Sound familiar? It should. The Mets were something like seven games up with 17 games to go in 2007 and lost the NL East crown to the Phillies on the last day of the season.

But for fans who know their Phillies history and those who are old enough to remember it, there is a much more familiar time in Phillies' history.

I don't want to be a naysayer, but as an FC, I am supposed to write three Phillies stories a week and with an off day on Monday, what the heck else is there to write about?

Aha, 1964.

To sum up briefly, the Phillies had a six-and-a-half game lead with 12 games to play in the National League. There was no East, Central, or West in those days—only a pennant winner in each league and the World Series.

On Sept. 21, 1964, the Reds' Chico Ruiz stole home in a 1-0 Reds victory. That began a 10-game losing streak for the Phillies, while the Reds went on a nine-game win streak.

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The St. Louis Cardinals won the 1964 National League pennant at 93-69, while the Phillies and the Reds finished one game behind, both with a 92-70 record.

Ouch.

Now if memory serves me, the Gene Mauch—led Phillies used Jim Bunning and Chris Short almost exclusively as starters down the stretch. It proved fatal.

The Phillies are too deep in starting pitching to use Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels down the stretch on alternate days.

What is the one way the Phillies, yikes (yeah, says Richard Marsh, Mike Kent, and Lou Cappetta), can blow an eight-game lead?

Hey, everybody, let's all say it together, Phillies and Mets fans: Brad Lidge.

Now to be fair, Ryan Madson has blown six saves in a much more limited closer role, but even Charlie Manuel has admitted, Brad Lidge is his closer.

Imagine the carnage/celebration of such a slide. I won't go game by game, but here is my Chico Ruiz (no relation) moment:

Jayson Werth steals home against the Marlins with two outs in the top of the ninth to put the Phillies ahead, 5-4. But wait, Shane Victorino steals second on a double steal and is thrown out. He argues the call and pushes the umpire and is thrown out of the game.

Inning over, 4-4. Lidge blows the game in a non-save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth. The game ends when Jayson Werth and Ben Francisco collide on a ball hit to right center. Marlins win 5-4.

Victorino is suspended for two games and fined. Werth breaks his collarbone, while Francisco is day to day.

Seriously though, the Phillies have to get a lot more healthy as they head into the playoffs.

According to Phillies.com, the injuries to the pitching staff is as follows: left-handers Scott Eyre (loose body in his left elbow), J.C. Romero (strained left forearm) and Jack Taschner (strained back), and right-handers Brett Myers (sore right shoulder) and Chan Ho Park (strained right hamstring).

Also Pedro Martinez had a stiff neck and may not start Friday.

No wonder Charlie Manuel is taking these last two weeks day to day.

Because he knows if he looks too far ahead, things could get worse.

A lot worse.