Leftfielder Steve Susorf committed one of the Phillies' three errors in an eight-run sixth inning on Sunday. (AP)
DETROIT — Embarrassing.
Is there any other way to describe the way the Phillies played during the 1-8 road trip that ended on Sunday with a 12-4 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park? Perhaps dreadful is the best way to sum up the fateful sixth inning of Sunday’s loss where the Phillies allowed eight runs, none earned, on just two hits, three errors, three walks, a bunt and a grand slam (see Instant Replay).
Can it get any worse?
“If there’s a bottom, this has to be it,” said Jimmy Rollins. “I can’t imagine things getting worse than they have this past week, culminating the way they did today.”
At 49-56, the Phillies extended their losing streak to a season-worst eight games. It’s the team’s longest losing streak since the end of the 2011 season and pushed them 10 1/2 games off the pace in the NL East.
Worse, the Phillies were outscored 60-27 during the road trip with 13 runs coming in the first game after the All-Star break. That means the Phillies scored 14 runs in the eight losses, suffering two shutouts and allowing double-digits three times.
Embarrassing? Ugly? Frightful? Go ahead and pick an adjective. Manager Charlie Manuel has a few of his own.
“When we play that bad, yeah, I’m upset. In some ways it’s embarrassing to me,” Manuel said. “We come to the ballpark every day to play and to play right and win the game. When we don’t play right and we play bad — very bad — it bothers me.”
Speaking to his point, in the sixth inning, when the Phillies saw their early, three-run lead vanish, things got particularly bad. Reliever Jake Diekman walked the first hitter he faced before committing a throwing error to put runners on first and second. After a bunt single, leftfielder Steve Susdorf dropped a routine fly ball to allow the go-ahead run to score.
Susdorf got his first big league hit just an inning before the costly error. For Susdorf, his first major-league start will be equal parts memorable and forgettable.
If the game had ended at that point it would have been bad enough. But the Phillies dug themselves deeper. Reliever Luis Garcia came in and promptly walked in another run. Then a throwing error by Darin Ruf allowed one more to score before Garcia walked in yet another run.
One pitch away from walking in a third run, Garcia grooved a pitch to Jhonny Peralta, who ripped it over the left-center field fence for a grand slam.
Eight unearned runs, three ugly errors and the road trip from hell finally reached its conclusion.
Could it have been any more poignant?
“I don’t know,” said Rollins, who exited the game after sixth inning. “That was embarrassing. Yeah. I’ve seen a lot, but I haven’t seen that.”
Said Manuel: “I’ve seen some sloppy innings before, but that one was rough. Really rough.”
It was rough, but maybe not surprising. After all, the Phillies’ starting lineup featured four players who weren’t even in the big leagues and/or the roster on opening day. Though the Phillies had some experienced players like Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Michael Young in the lineup on Sunday, Manuel says he is following through on his promise to give some time to the younger players. Unfortunately, those players are going through growing pains on a team that had hoped to contend for the NL East.
With the trade deadline just a couple of days away, the Phillies’ roster could get decidedly less experienced before August rolls around.
Whoever is out there, Manuel says the Phillies have to perform better than they did Sunday.
“I hope we can play better than this. We better play better than this, I can tell you that,” Manuel said. “What was it, a month ago when I told you we’re going to give everyone a chance to play and see what they got? That’s what’s happening, isn’t it? I don’t think I lied or cheated anybody.”
Now the reckoning is approaching. For as bad as the Phillies have been lately, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. can argue his team still has a chance this season.
So yes, if changes are coming, Manuel is ready for them.
“I think I’m ready for us to play a helluva a lot better than we’ve seen,” he said.
The Phillies have off Monday before opening a nine-game homestand. The Giants are the first team in with a three-game set scheduled to begin Tuesday night. The pitching matchups for the series against the Giants:
Tuesday: John Lannan (2-4, 4.13) vs. Barry Zito (4-7, 4.92)
Wednesday: Kyle Kendrick (9-7, 3.96) vs. Chad Gaudin (4-2, 2.77)
Thursday: Cole Hamels (4-13, 4.09) vs. Matt Cain (6-6, 4.79)