By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—The definition of a mediocre is a team in baseball is one that can’t seem to get all the aspects of the game together on a consistent basis.
Ladies and gentleman, your 2014 Phillies have been teetering around the .500 mark all season and they have been a team that can’t seem to get a handle on itself. If the Phils are consistent in one thing is that they aren’t on a regular basis.
“It’s just the consistency of putting everything together for a string of games,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. “We show signs of it in all areas. We just have to be consistent in all the areas and put it all together.”
In Wednesday afternoon’s 3-0 shutout loss to the Anaheim Angels at Citizen’s Bank Park, the Phillies bats were missing in action and the starting pitching struggled, but could have use some run support.
“On the offensive side, we’ve got guys that are a capable of doing the job,” Sandberg said. “I’d say (Chase) Utley, (Ryan) Howard, (Jimmy) Rollins and Byrd have been fairly consistent in the last couple of weeks…our better players are doing a good job and they’ve been fairly consistent.
“We have to get better as a full lineup, up and down the lineup. Ben (Revere) is a catalyst at the top of the order when he gets on base. He hasn’t gotten on base in the last couple of weeks.”
The Phillies offense just couldn’t solve the riddle of Angels’ right-handed pitcher Garrett Richards, who had eight strikeouts while allowing just five hits in seven innings of work.
Phillies starting pitcher A.J. Burnett didn’t have a bad outing, but it wasn’t a good one either. He allowed three runs on five hits with five walks and six strikeouts in five innings on the mound. He gave up single runs in the first, second and third innings.
Burnett’s gritty effort was wasted by another poor effort from the Phillies hitters. It was another example of how one aspect of the Phillies game can be engaged and locked in while the other one is completely out to lunch.
On the days and nights when they pitch well, they can’t buy a hit. A starting pitcher like Cliff Lee can have a solid outing in Tuesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and not give up an earned run only to have it spoiled by errors in the field.
“I think that’s what every team tries to do—pitch good, play good defense and hit good,” said third baseman Cody Asche, who committed three errors in the loss on Tuesday.
“There’s no secret in how to win baseball games. Those three facets are what’s going to win you games. When you’re doing the right things in those three areas, you’re going to lose more than you win.
At this juncture of the season, the Phillies are exactly the 17-21 record you see in the standings. They will get swept by the Toronto Blue Jays in one series, sweep the New York Mets in another and get manhandled in the next series.
That’s the sign of a mediocre, up and down team. The Phillies are in last place and four and a half games out of a first place in a lackluster National League East. Watching this team on a regular basis it makes you wonder is this team as good as they’re going to be?Can they get better or will they be sellers by the July 31st trade?
Yes, it’s still May and they play in a fairly mediocre National League East, which means they’ll face teams like the Mets, Braves, Marlins and Nationals—teams they are capable of beating.
“We just got to put it all together, “ said Phillies rightfielder Marlon Byrd. “If it’s not all together, you lose games. If it’s all together, you win games. That’s the bottomline—pitching, defense and timely hitting are the keys to winning.”