The Phillies’ core of offensive players has set a stellar example for newcomers like Reid Brignac. Credit: Getty Images
If Phillies fans knew at the end of spring training that by mid-June that the Phillies core four would be healthy and productive and the NL East would be full of weak teams, there would have been reason for optimism.
However, despite respectable seasons for Chase Utley, who has reverted to All-Star form, Jimmy Rollins, who has rediscovered his power stroke and is in the top ten in the NL in walks, Ryan Howard, who is sixth in the NL in RBIs and strong all-around play from Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies are at the bottom of the National League.
However, it would be a reach to blame the icons from the greatest run in Phillies history for the ineptitude that has plagued Ryne Sandberg’s team. The Phillies have been crippled by virtually no production out of third base. Domonic Brown has struggled mightily after what appeared to be a breakout season and Ben Revere has had trouble getting on base. And then there are the bullpen issues.
“We have to pick it up,” Revere said. “There’s a number of guys that have yet to play up to their potential. We know what we’re capable of. We just have to get out there and do it.”
Considering how poorly the Phillies have played, they’re fortunate to be only seven and a half out of first place, entering the finale of the San Diego Padres series. “We’re not that far back,” Domonic Brown said. “There’s still time to get back.”
Sandberg clings to hope that the Phillies could turn things around by winning a few games in a row. “We still haven’t had a hot streak,” Sandberg said.
However, a third of the season is already by the boards and this incredibly inconsistent team appears unable to put together the kind of winning streak it needs to right the leaky ship. The Phillies have not put together a four-game winning streak in over a year (June 2-6, 2013)
“But we have the talent to get something going,” Revere said. “We have guys that can put this team on its back.”
Utley, Howard, Rollins and Ruiz have each done just that in the past. Utley is the only one to have been scorching hot so far this season. The others have played decently. Marlon Byrd has played well but most of the rest of the team, including an ineffective bench, must improve quickly.
Too bad the Phillies don’t play the San Diego Padres more often. Since 2004, the year that both Citizens Bank Park and Petco Park both opened, the Phillies are 48-20 (.706) against the Padres, which is their best winning percentage against any team.
The Phillies can’t get it going at home. Entering yesterday’s game, the Phils are 14-19 with a paltry .230 batting average with just 30 home runs. That’s hard to believe and it brings to mind an old Billy Wagner quote. “I just gave up a 258-foot home run,” Wagner said. “Man, it’s so easy to hit homers in this park.”