During Charlie Manuel’s initial season as Phillies manager back in 2005, the winningest manager in club history was asked about the impact of Citizens Bank Park, which opened its gates the prior year.
“This is a place where you hit,” Manuel said. “It’s difficult for a pitcher but it’s difficult for both pitchers. Both teams play here. If you’re a good pitcher, you’ll be fine. But don’t make mistakes because hitters will take advantage of them.”
Citizens Bank Park has not been a place where the Phillies have hit, at least consistently. The Phillies have been shut out five times in 24 home games. The nadir was Sunday when the Phillies were no-hit at home for the first time since the Connie Mack Stadium era. That marked the fourth time in seven games that the Phillies were blanked.
Why aren’t the Phillies hitting at the park that remains a launching pad for the opposition?
“I have no idea,” Domonic Brown said. “We have the hitters. We can do it. We just haven’t found our groove.”
But it’s not just the hitting that’s an issue at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies have played their worst baseball at home. They are 10-14 at CBP entering Tuesday’s game. Only six teams are at least .500 on the road and the Phillies are one of those squads. Teams that win on the road are typically winning squads. Ryne Sandberg’s team is truly a Jekyll and Hyde squad.
“It’s difficult to get a good read on this Phillies team,” a NL scout said. “It’s maddeningly inconsistent. One day it looks like the worst team in baseball and the next, they’re clicking on all cylinders.”
There’s no better example of that than the start of this week. Josh Beckett dominated the Phillies posting the first no-hitter of the season. Phillies pitching had no answer for the Dodgers, who racked up six runs. The following day the Phillies appeared to move the clock back to 2008. Ryan Howard homered and drove in five runs. He and Chase Utley had three hits each. Kyle Kendrick and the bullpen blanked the Rockies, who are the best hitting team in baseball.
“Sometimes baseball is hard to explain,” Howard said. “I don’t know why we haven’t been more consistent here. But we have to figure out a way to win here.”
Considering how badly the Phillies have performed, it’s amazing they’re only five games out of first place. Only eight teams in baseball have a worse record than the Phillies.
“Fortunately there is plenty of time to figure things out,”Ben Revere said. “We haven’t even played two months yet. A lot of guys, who have yet to get hot with the bat will get hot.”
But will those guys ever get hot at home?
“I think that’ll definitely happen,” Revere said. “We’re due.”
As Manuel liked to say, ‘the guys will start hitting here when it’s hittin’ weather.’ Hittin’ weather is on the horizon but will this group of Phillies connect?