PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies finished a six game homestand that left fans with one question Sunday afternoon.
With summer just three days old, what do Philadelphia fans have to look forward to the rest of the season?
New York Mets phenom Matt Harvey allowed two hits and no runs in six innings as New York beat the Phillies 8-0 before 44,951 fans at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies finished the homestand 3-3. Philadelphia (36-40) begins a 10-game road trip in San Diego against the Padres tonight.
The homestand was microcosm of the Phillies frustrating season.
“If you watch us play all season long, you see the inconsistent part of it,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We need to play better baseball and get in position to run off a streak.”
Manuel, however, admitted he wonders if the Phillies have a big winning streak in them.
The homestand was typical of the way the team has meandered through the season. It started with a pair of wins against the Washington Nationals last Monday and Tuesday. Fans hoped those victories were the start of a winning streak.
But just as the Phillies seemed poised to sweep the Nationals, Jonathan Papelbon blew a save and Philadelphia lost 6-2 in 11 innings to Washington last Wednesday.
Papelbon bemoaned the team’s lack of fundamentals after the game.
The rest of the homestand included another poor start from Cole Hamels on Friday, some excitement from Kevin Frandsen’s game-winning home run on Saturday and Sunday’s defeat.
The Phillies did pick up a game. They began last Monday 81/2 games behind the first place Atlanta Braves. Philadelphia ended Sunday 71/2 back.
“Our best opportunity to get right back in the race is right now,” third baseman Michael Young said. “We can’t wait until after the All Star break. We have to start generating momentum right now. Every game is big now.”
But the Phillies left for California with no momentum. Harvey overmatched the Philadelphia hitters. He struck out Domonic Brown swinging in the second and fourth innings on 99 mph fastballs, according to the ballpark scoreboard. Harvey left after the sixth inning because of a 20-minute rain delay in the top of the seventh inning.
Phillies starter John Lannan left in the sixth inning because the Mets pounded him for five doubles and six runs during the game.
The Mets scored three runs into the top of the fifth after Phillies center fielder Ben Revere bobbled a fly ball to allow the inning’s leadoff hitter Juan Lagares to reach third base. Revere appeared to catch the ball, but moments later it fell out of his glove. Umpires ruled he never had control of the ball.
It was a questionable call. Revere said it was a bad one. But an argument could be made that Revere should have been more precise about he transferred the ball from his glove to his throwing hand.
The Phillies played the final three innings as if they were in a hurry to get to San Diego. Mets relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Brandon Lyon needed a total of 31 pitches to retire the Phillies in the final three innings.
The fans who stuck around the ballpark after the rain seemed indifferent to the game. The crowd did cheer sarcastically when Revere caught a line drive during the top of the ninth inning.
“When you see us play (Sunday),” Manuel said, “and you see the way Harvey handled us, and us get sloppy at the end, doubt starts creeping into your mind. But you have to grind it out. It gets down to how much you want it. Attitude can take you a long way.”
How many of those type of players are in the Phillies’ clubhouse?
“I don’t know,” Manuel said. “We have to play better baseball. We have to have more get-up and go about us.”
The Phillies talk constantly of moving on after defeats. They say there is time left in the season. But some players know their playoff hopes are fading away.
“It’s a fine line,” Young said. “Just because you say there’s time doesn’t mean you’re complacent. You have to be patient enough that you don’t press. But (you must) still have enough aggression in your game to know it’s time to get going now.”
The Phillies headed west with a depleted bullpen. Relievers Mike Adams and Michael Stutes were placed on the disabled list this weekend, both with bicep tendinitis. Adams is headed to Los Angeles to get a second opinion from surgeon Neal ElAttrache, the doctor who operated on Roy Halladay’s shoulder last month.
“We have to find a way to weather the storm,” Young said. “No one feels sorry for anyone at this level.”
The Phillies won’t be back home until July 5.
What will the fans be thinking then?
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