ST. LOUIS -- In what is becoming an all-too-familiar pose, Charlie Manuel sat behind the desk in the visiting manager’s office at Busch Stadium late Wednesday night with a grim look on his face.
He had just watched his team suffer its fourth straight defeat, an unsightly 11-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in which the Phillies, despite not making an error, kicked the ball over the field (see Instant Replay). After the game, the door to Manuel’s office remained closed for a while as the skipper spoke with general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
Amaro declined comment after his closed-door chat, leaving Manuel to sum things up.
“It was kind of an ugly game,” he said dejectedly. “It seemed like everything we did wasn’t good. We’d drop a ball, the next guy would get a hit. All kinds of stuff happened.
“We were definitely trying, but things just started snowballing and going bad for us. We played a bad game.”
A week before the trade deadline, the Phillies need to be racking up wins if they are to dissuade management from raising the white flag and selling off pieces. It might already be too late. The Phils are back to three games under .500 and have fallen eight games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East. Even if the Phils were to add talent, it would just be a player or two, probably a reliever and a backup outfielder. That probably wouldn’t be enough to rescue this flawed team.
In the meantime, the Phils have another game to play against St. Louis, the majors’ best club, on Thursday night before moving on to play a strong Detroit team on Friday.
The Phils will play at least Thursday night’s game without their top power bat, Domonic Brown (see story).
After winning eight of 11 games to head into the all-star break at .500, the Phils have come back from the break and lost four of five.
Manuel was asked if he was concerned about his ballclub getting down.
“I’m concerned about everything,” he said. “We’ve got some veterans who’ve been around, but at the same time when you play that sloppy, it’s definitely not good. But that’s part of being a major league ballplayer. You don’t get down. You’ve got to play. That’s what it’s all about it.”
The Phils’ sloppy play started early when third baseman Michael Young couldn’t handle a ball toward the line in the second inning. It went for a hit and set up a run. Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley both had hits clang off their gloves.
The miscue that hurt most was John Mayberry Jr.’s misplay in the fifth inning. He unwisely dove for a bases-loaded base hit by Shane Robinson. It got by him and went for a three-run triple. Those runs were charged to rookie reliever J.C. Ramirez. It was a tough night for the Phils' young bullpen as Ramirez and Jake Diekman combined to allow seven runs.
Starter John Lannan failed to build on two straight strong starts. He allowed four runs in four innings before leaving for a pinch-hitter.
Lannan allowed 10 base runners. He walked the opposing pitcher, Jake Westbrook, with two outs in the fourth. Westbrook then took advantage of first baseman Darin Ruf’s loose hold and stole second, setting up a run.
“Darin backed up too far and Westbrook got a jump and took off,” Manuel said.
Lannan fell to 2-4 with a 4.13 ERA.
“I didn’t execute the way I needed to,” he said. “You try to limit damage, but I didn’t do that.”
The Cardinals had 16 hits and were 9 for 20 with runners in scoring position.
The Phillies had nine hits, but only one for extra bases and they were 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
At a time when the Phils desperately need wins, they have scored just four runs in the last three games.