The rain seemed to be the theme for the Phillies this weekend down in our Nation’s capital. However Phillies Nation flocked deep to CBP South with more coverage than every rain drop combined. The roughly 136 miles down I-95 from Philly to DC didn’t slow down the sea of red that traveled to Nats park to show their undying support for the best team in baseball.
The best team in the Majors came home with a series loss. After their last series loss at home to San Fran in late July the Phillies had rattled off 16 of 20. They still sit 6.5 games above the second place Atlanta Braves in the division. The Braves won at home today 1-0 vs. the Diamondbacks.
For a Phillies team not prone to late game losses the below five hundred Nats managed to pull off two surprising late game heroics including the 5-4 win on Sunday afternoon at Nats Park. With his typical philthy stuff Antonio Bastardo was one out away from a 4-3 victory until an Ian Desmond solo shot tied the game at 4-4. The untouchable Bastardo struck out the first two batters he faced. With Ryan Madson unavailable the closing duties were left to Young Bastardo.
With a Major League leading 90.2 save percentage the last thing the Phillies expected was to travel north with a series loss in tow, including three blown saves. After giving up a walk-off grand slam in the series opener they were looking for series redemption. But no win, no redemption. On Sunday the Phillies lost the game in the 10th when Brad Lidge loaded the bases and hit Jonny Gomes with a pitch to walk in the winning run. Talk about an ugly loss. Just the second series loss for the Phillies since 2 of 3 at Safeco field in the middle of June.
Top ace Roy Halladay allowed two thru 5 innings before the rain came and forced Uncle Cholly to the pen. Making his Major League debut righty and rookie haze victim Michael Schwimer allowed a solo shot to Danny Espinosa but held the Nats scoreless the remainder of this three innings pitched.
The Phillies scored the go-ahead run in the ninth thanks to a single to center from former Nat Michael "mini-mart" Martinez to give the Phils a 4-3 lead.
The series loss wasn’t the only dark spot as short stop Jimmy Rollins left the game with a right groin strain. The injury was suffered fielding a ground ball in the second inning. Rollins is listed as day to day. Via Twitter Rollins commented on the injury saying he will have an MRI regarding his groin on Monday. Seemingly perfect timing for the Phils third baseman Placido Polanco is scheduled to be activated from DL on Monday as well.
With every move the Phillies make this year scrutiny is sure to follow. An impressive 81 wins leaves little to bark at but with every praise the criticism is not far behind. I have always considered myself the optimist of all optimists and it is hard for me to find too many flaws with this Phillies team. With every loss especially a blown save Charlie Manuel is put in the hot seat. I for one have never (or maybe rarely ever) criticized Charlie for his bullpen decisions, leaving a starter in, or any of his many coaching decisions.
In a potential NLDS preview Tuesday night vs. the Diamondbacks Charlie was fielded with questions regarding his coaching decisions after ace Roy Halladay gave up a 9th inning lead in a 3-2 Phillies loss. I admire Manuel for his loyalty to his horses, his studs, and his persistence in letting his players play the way he knows they are capable of playing. The bumps along the road are sure to come even for the best pitcher and the best team in baseball but that kind of confidence behind your players only breeds harder working players, more wins, and World Series titles.
After Halladay’s Tuesday night loss Manuel was quick to back his decision and his ace.
“Kind of his game isn’t it?” Manuel said. “He’s my ace. That’s the way I look at it. If I was going to make a move, I’d have made it to start the inning.”
His game, their game, the way they know how to play has proven to work wonders for the best team in baseball this year. Despite the series loss to the Nats this weekend there is not much that can slow this fast moving train down. With the perfect fitting addition of already phan favorite Hunter Pence this Phillies lineup is downright dangerous and we all know how scary good the pitching has been. That kind of combination is downright impossible to beat. The Phillies head home to open a series on Monday vs. the hated New York Muts. #letsgoeat!