If you didn’t watch Thursday’s game after the way the other three games of the Phillies’ series with the Dodgers went, I don’t blame you. I don’t blame you if you decide to skip right past tonight’s series opener with the Orioles.
The Phillies are not a fun team to watch right now. There is nothing pretty about it at all.
This series sweep, which just added to the Dodgers’ tour de force on the rest of Major League Baseball and further drove the Phillies into the ground, brought out the best and worst in both teams. Take a look at each game.
The opener featured Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw against Vance Worley. Worley, fresh off the DL, gave the Phillies what he could: four innings. Kershaw worked longer. Both allowed three runs. The Phillies were even in a 3-0 hole and rallied to tie the score. It certainly was a sight for sore eyes.
But then the Phillies’ bats, as they have done so many times before this season, went cold. The Dodgers may not have been getting many hits themselves, but in the few chances the Phillies had to take the lead, they didn’t. Again, not the first time that’s happened.
The Dodgers eventually got to Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth before closing things down to win.
The second game had all things going the Phillies’ way. Again, the offense wasn’t excellent, shutting down operations after a first-inning run, but one looked like it would be enough. Until winless Cliff Lee couldn’t get Elian Herrera. He tried to throw a 2-2 curveball, hung it right down the middle, and watched it fly left field and off the wall, plating two runs as a result. Game over. And snatched right out of the Phillies’ hands.
The third game was also similar. Kyle Kendrick doing the best he can limits the Dodgers to two runs in an inning that could have been way worse. That was a hole the Phillies climbed out of in the fifth with two home runs of their three on the night. But then the Dodgers once again pulled out three runs of their own, seemingly out of nowhere and all with two outs.
By the time yesterday’s game rolled around, the series had already been a laugher and finally the Dodgers threw a crooked number on the board to prove it.
Right now, the Phillies current state has fans wishing for 2008 again. The Dodgers are making it feel like 2008 with the way they are playing.
The Dodgers are not a great team on paper right now. Matt Kemp, their top run producer, is on the DL. Andre Ethier, their next highest run producer, didn’t have a hit until his two-run double in the ninth inning of yesterday’s 8-3 Phillies’ loss. When he hit it, it hardly had an effect on the final result.
So, the Dodgers, without getting offense from their two go-to guys, scored 20 runs in a four-game series with their other guys in the lineup. You didn’t know their names before, but you probably know them now. Guys like Dee Gordon, Elian Herrera, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Matt Treanor. These are the players that drove in the tying and winning runs in each game this series when the Phillies led. Not Ethier, not James Loney, not A.J. Ellis. The little people of the lineup did the biggest things.
I said it quite a bit last season when the Phillies couldn’t seem to lose more than two or three games in a row. The best teams in baseball find a way to win. The Dodgers found all sorts of ways to win the four games played at Citizens Bank Park this week while the Phillies keep finding a new way to lose ballgames.
Therefore, the Dodgers proved why they are the best team in baseball. They not only won every game of this series, but showed the Phillies first-hand how they are doing things this season with unlikely heroes in the most meaningful moments of the game.
The Phillies meanwhile showed that their identity this season is a lack of an identity. A team meeting was held after they were swept by the Mets on May 9. From May 11 to June 1, the last time the Phillies won, the team had put together a 14-7 record. It wasn’t good enough to elevate their overall record to soaring heights or bring them out of last place, but it did push them within 2 1/2 games of first place. A six-game losing streak since has pushed them back to six games out of first and back to three games below .500.
It is a pattern that shows that just as quickly as a winning streak can put a team back in the race, a losing streak can take you right out of it. That’s the story for these Phillies, who after 59 games have not found any rhythm at all.