With another frustrating 2-1 loss to the woeful Miami Marlins last Friday night , the Philadelphia Phillies were officially eliminated from playoff contention after the St. Louis Cardinals smothered the playoff-bound Washington Nationals 12-2. Playing to stay in contention for the final wild card spot, the Phillies offense could not produce any chances to drive in some runs.
Another frustrating part of the evening was how well Cliff Lee pitched, but his efforts were wasted again. Lee went seven solid innings, striking out five and only surrendering three hits and one run. Even with seven hits, the Phillies could not find a way to drive in more than one run.This lack of run production has plagued the Phillies all season.
Sure, the Phillies are now 81-80, a record much better than their record from a month ago, but losing several games apiece to the Braves, Marlins and Astros was simply inexcusable. They needed to win those series outright.
Even with all the negatives, however, the one positive thing the Phillies can pull out from these disappointing series is their new left fielder and arguably their best prospect, Darin Ruf. Ruf is 11-for-31 (.355) at the plate with three home runs and 9 RBIs in his first 11 games since being called up from the minor leagues; in the minors, at Double-A Reading, Ruf broke the league record for homers in a season (38) and also was one of the top run producers with 104 runs batted in.
Charlie Manuel said last week he just wants to focus on having his team finish at or above the .500 mark, which they are guaranteed to accomplish seeing as they’re 81-80 with only one more game to play. While the Nationals will focus on their playoff run, the Phillies have to address some serious issues to help strengthen and rejuvenate their team for the 2013 season.
Obviously, they need to find reliable relief pitchers, something the Phillies hope they have in one of their many young pitchers such as Phillippe Aumont, Justin De Fratus, and Josh Lindblom. Their starting pitchers also need to regain their composure and work to regain their title as one of the most dominant rotations in the MLB. Manager Charlie Manuel said that he thinks other teams just aren’t intimidated by the rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Tyler Cloyd, and Kyle Kendrick. That is a rotation with plenty of potential and enormous amounts of talent, but this year they simply underperformed. Who would have thought that the ace Roy Halladay would have a 4.49 ERA and that the dominant Cliff Lee would only have six wins? Who could have foreseen at the beginning of the year that the Phillies would have to trade Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at the trade deadline?
This season is one that the entire Phillies organization needs to put in the rearview mirror. So, as the Phillies finish out their final game on the road, and Citizens Bank Park will be unusually quiet for a few months, fans can only hope that the Phightins have a strong off-season and build on the disappointment of this year to cement a solid foundation for the 2013 season.