Tag Archives: National League East

Rebuilding the Colossal Wreck That is the Phillies

8 Jul

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

New Phillies Team President Andy MacPhail has the monumental task of making the Phils a contender again.

New Phillies Team President Andy MacPhail has the monumental task of making the Phils a contender again.

PHILADELPHIA—During the Phillies run to five straight playoff appearances, crowds packed Citizens Bank Park and wondered what newcomers might be in red and white pinstripes at the July 31st trade deadline.

All was right in South Philly as Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley led a potent offense and a young Cole Hamels was part of a group of aces that shut down hitters right and left and included Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

Fast forward to the present and the 2015 All-Star Break.

Today, the Phillies once mighty empire is in ruins. They have the worst record in baseball, finding a seat at Citizens Bank Park isn’t hard and the fans that do come see the team don’t have a lot to cheer about. In fact, as football season draws closer and the losses continue to mount, expect to hear E-A-G-L-E-S chants.

The star players from the team won the World Series in 2008 are shadows of their former selves thanks to a combination of age and injuries. Howard is batting just .218 with 14 homers and 41 runs batted in, boy wonder Utley is batting just .179 with just four homeruns and 25 RBIs, and catcher Carlos Ruiz is hitting .225 with one homer and 15 RBIs.

Heck, on Monday night, former Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, the former MVP that proclaimed the Phightins “The Team To Beat”, added insult to injury by helping his new team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, win the game by driving in two go-ahead runs.
Before that at-bat, Rollins was batting a paltry .208.
The Dodgers, contenders in the NL West, are probably in search of additional pieces to help them make a run at the post season.
Maybe they need to bring their shopping list to Philadelphia.

It’s time for the Phillies to start moving folks. Howard has only one year left on a large contract that probably sounded like a good idea at the time. Meanwhile, Hamels is 5-6 with a 3.02 ERA that includes several outings where run support was hard to come by.

And contenders like the Dodgers and the New York Yankees could use a closer like Jonathan Papelbon to get them over the postseason hump.
You see, the Phillies need prospects. They need good, young players to bolster a thin farm system. And you can’t get those prospects when you have a bunch of guys that are not only a part of the past, but have become a pretty ineffective part of the present.

The long-term rebuilding process of turning the Phillies back into a contender will come under the watch of new team president Andy MacPhail, a man who comes from a long line of Hall of Fame front office guys. MacPhail was the general of the Minnesota Twins during their 1987 and 1991 World Series championship teams season and most recently reviving a moribund Baltimore Orioles team.

The challenge for MacPhail will be to find a general manager that really knows talent because I get the feeling that Ruben Amaro Jr.’s contract will not renewed.

You’ll also need a good manager to turn a bunch of young players into a contender. With all due respect to Ryne Sandberg, who resigned as Phillies’ manager last month, a laid-back, milquetoast approach won’t get the job done.

From what I understand, Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia, a Philadelphia-area native, is in the final year of his contract. He has a World Series ring and the Angels have finished no worse than third during his 15-year tenure as a manager. If I’m MacPhail or the new GM, I am on the phone with Scioscia at the end of the season.

When he assumes command, MacPhail needs to definitively show Phillies fans some that there’s going to be light at the end of what has been become a dark and gloomy tunnel.

Or the only memories that the Phillies will have are those of an empty stadium.

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Papelbon’s Blown Save and Fallout from Obscene Gesture Typifies Phillies Miserable Season

15 Sep

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun.

Jonathan Papelbon said he was adjusting his equipment and this was not an obscene gesture.

Jonathan Papelbon said he was adjusting his equipment and this was not an obscene gesture.

PHILADELPHIA—If you’re looking for signs that the Phillies miserable 2014 season can’t end soon enough, the bizarre ending to Sunday’s game certainly provided evidence of that.

For the eight innings, it looked like the Phillies were on their way to a three-game sweep of the Florida Marlins. They came into the ninth inning with a 4-1 lead and closer Jonathan Papelbon on the mound to put the game on ice. He had converted 14 straight save opportunities since July 24.

But the disaster struck Papelbon and the Phillies in the ninth inning as the Marlins scored four runs to steal away a 5-4 win over the Phils, who head on their final road trip of the season by losing a game they should have won.

It was typical of a year where the Phillies can’t seem to get things right on a regular basis and the way this game is just another example of why the Phils are at the bottom of the National League East standings.

Papelbon’s exit from the game after the Phillies surrendered the lead in the ninth inning became the theatre of the absurd.

Umpire Joe West and Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon engage in a heated argument after the Phils pitcher is ejected from the game.

Umpire Joe West and Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon engage in a heated argument after the Phils pitcher is ejected from the game.

As he was coming off the field, Papelbon was being booed loudly by the 30, 201 fans gathered at Citizen’s Bank Park. Before leaving the field, Papelbon grabbed his crouch, making what could be interpreted as an obscene gesture to the fans.

That prompted second-base umpire Joe West to eject Papelbon from the game.

“That’s what I saw and so did the plate umpire,” West said. “You can’t do things like that. The whole thing started because the fans booed him and he made an obscene gesture. He had no business doing that. He’s got be more professional than that.”

Papelbon said told reporters after the game he was adjusting his equipment and was not making an obscene gesture to the crowd.

“By no means was I directing anything at any fans,” Papelbon said. “I have a four-year and a five-year-old son and a daughter. I am not out here doing inappropriate things. Come on this is baseball. I think Joe (West) just took something to a whole new level that didn’t need to go there. It is unfortunate that he took it there because by no means did it mean to be like that.”

Having played baseball myself, I can see it where he might have been adjusting his protective cup. However, I think he should have waited until he got in the dugout. Quite frankly, I think he did it on purpose out of the emotion of blowing a save and getting booed by the crowd.

Things became even more intense when Papelbon and West got into heated argument after Papelbon was ejected. West grabbed Papelbon’s jersey and tossed him out of the way before first base umpire Marty Foster broke the two up.

“Joe had no right to grab me by any means so I will file a complaint for that for sure,” Papelbon said.
West said the altercation between he and Papelbon started when he came to the Phillies dugout to toss him out of the game.

“I told him ‘you’ve got to go,’ “ West said. “And then he charged out of the dugout and his bumped into my hat and I grabbed him and I said, ‘Get off of me.’”

Throughout this season, the Phillies have had games where one aspect of their game was going strong while others have broken down to cause them to lose.

On Sunday, the Phillies scored enough runs to win the game. They took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on an RBI single by third baseman Maikel Franco. Miami tied the game in the fourth on a solo homer by second baseman Kiki Hernandez.

The Phils took the lead in the fourth inning when left fielder Domonic Brown hit into a double play with the bases loaded to drive in one run. Catcher Carlos Ruiz had an RBI single in the same inning to give his team a 3-1 lead.

The Phillies got an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when centerfielder Ben Revere scored on a fielder’s choice by second baseman Chase Utley.

Meanwhile, Phillies starting pitcher David Buchanan had a solid outing, allowing just one run on five hits in six and a third innings. He had strike outs and one walk. He threw 89 pitches.

The Phillies set up men in the bullpen—Antonio Bastardo and Justin De Fratus did their part in stopping the Marlins offense and held them no runs and no hits.

But just when it looked like the Phillies were clicking on all cylinders in this game, they shot themselves in the foot again with a bad outing by a closer who had problems leaving the ball across the middle of the plate.

It’s been that kind of a year.

Game 81: Phillies Drowning Themselves at the Halfway Point of the Season

29 Jun

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

 

Phillies Manager Ryne Sandberg feels his team has to improve in every aspect the game.

Phillies Manager Ryne Sandberg feels his team has to improve in every aspect the game.

PHILADELPHIA—At about this time last week when the Phillies went 5-2 on their last road trip, including a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

All of sudden there was some optimism for a hot minute in the City of Brotherly Love, especially since the Phillies are within striking distance of the leaders in the National League East even looking up from last place.

Unfortunately for the Phillies, this current homestand brought us back to a stark reality that they are still going nowhere fast. It reminds me of the two Japanese groundskeepers in the movie, “Major League,” who kept saying their team was “still sh—ty.”

Since winning five straight last week, the Phillies have lost seven of their last nine games including today’s double-header sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Brave at the Citizen’s Bank Park Saturday afternoon and evening.

The Phillies lost the first game 10-3 and the second game 5-1 to sink themselves further down in the National League East race. They haven’t been able to score more than three runs in the first three games of this series. They were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in the second game of the double-header.

“It is disappointing we came with momentum, a winning streak,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. “We could have won another game against the Marlins, but these last three games. … It was a tough for sure. It was a lot of things a lack of offense, a big inning there on the pitching side of things and not so good play on defense.”

The Phillies are nine games below .500 at the true halfway point of the season-game No. 81. It’s the same old problems for the Phillies—lack of hitting, poor defense and pitching, though that aspect of their game has improved significantly. Uniting the three kingdoms of offense, pitching and defense on a consistent basis has been a monumental struggle for the Phillies (36-45).

“We have to do things differently,” Sandberg said. “We definitely have to have more opportunities to score runs and then we have to actually score runs. We have to be more consistent in putting the pitching and the defense together.”

In the Phillies last nine games, they are hitting just .139 with runners in scoring position. Sandberg said he still believes his team is good enough to contend, but they have to play fundamental baseball, something they don’t do on a regular basis.

“We can definitely sharpen up on just playing clean baseball and execute in situational things,” Sandberg said. “The starting pitching has to be consistent, but we have to play good defense behind that pitching.”

In the first game of the twin-bill, first baseman Ryan Howard committed two errors that led to a pair of unearned runs that got the Braves back into the game after the Phillies had taken a 2-0 lead. The bullpen gave up five runs in the eighth.

Centerfielder Ben Revere said despite the Phillies current run of misfortune, the team is still capable of putting together a solid run to get back in the race. At the rate they are losing and the way they are playing, it just doesn’t seem to be possible that the Phillies can turn it around.

“We can go on a roll at any time, win a couple series and sweep a couple of good teams and we’re right back in it,” Revere said. “We have to keep battling. We’re at the halfway point, but it’s a long season and we have the team to do that.”

They better to do it quick because the season is not far from being on life support, if it’s not there already.

 

The Ultimate Spark Plug: Jimmy Rollins Becomes the Phillies All-Time Leader in Hits

15 Jun

Mike Schmidt Thinks Rollins could be an Hall of Famer

http://espn.go.com/blog/jayson-stark/post/_/id/819/jimmy-rollins-unique-hall-of-fame-case
By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Jimmy Rollins surpassed Mike Schmidt on the Phillies all-time hits list in Saturday's 7-4 win over the Chicago Cubs. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Jimmy Rollins surpassed Mike Schmidt on the Phillies all-time hits list in Saturday’s 7-4 win over the Chicago Cubs. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—When you’re writing the history of the Phillies between 2007 and 2011, a period that saw five National League East titles, one World Series title, and two National League pennants, you have to start with shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

Starting with the 2007 season, Rollins boldly proclaimed the Phillies as “the team to beat.” I remember everybody including a few of my colleagues in the media thought he was crazy. Rollins backed it up with an MVP season while leading the Phillies to the first of their five division titles.

After all, that’s what a lead-off hitter is supposed to do and Rollins was definitely the spark during that run.

“When it comes to the come down, he loves to be in that situation,” said teammate Ryan Howard.

Rollins solidified his place in Phillies history Saturday by becoming the team’s all-time leaders in hits with 2,335 hits surpassing legendary Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt. The big hit came in the fifth inning of the Phillies 7-4 win over the Chicago Cubs Saturday in front of 31,524 fans at Citizen’s Bank Park.

In typical fashion, Rollins’ record-breaking hit came leading off an inning in which the Phillies scored three runs. It was reminiscent of how his MVP season of 2007 ignited the most successful run of postseason appearances in the history of the franchise.

He got it started.

“I was able to use that time to propel the team and be part of something special,” Rollins said. “I was able to pile up a bunch of hits, but at the end of the day, it was really more about winning championships. When you’re around one organization and you’re productive, you’re going to be able to accomplish some pretty cool things and this is one of the things along the way.”

Jimmy Rollins takes questions from the media after breaking Mike Schmidt's all-time hits record. Photo by Chris Murray

Jimmy Rollins takes questions from the media after breaking Mike Schmidt’s all-time hits record. Photo by Chris Murray

In 15 seasons in the red pinstripes, the 35-year-old Rollins has had a remarkable career with the Phillies and will no doubt have his number up on the Phillies Wall of Fame along with Schmidt and Richie Ashburn.

“I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of hits first hand from Jimmy and he’s a special kind of player,” said second baseman Chase Utley. “I’m happy for him, it’s well deserved, playing a tough position for as many years as he has and to be able to have the success that he has is pretty special.”

Some observers including Schmidt believe that Rollins could be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. A recent ESPN.com article pointed out that Rollins is one of six shortstops in the history of baseball to have over 2,000 hits and four or more Gold Gloves. He is fourth on the major league list for career lead off homeruns with 46.

“I think right now Jimmy’s stock is pretty high right now,” Schmidt told reporters after watching Rollins break his record. “I think if Jimmy retired at the end of this season, I think he’d get some serious Hall-of-Fame consideration right now.

“He’s got two or three years. He’s got some work to do. If he does that work, if he plays 140 games, gets 160 to 180 hits or maybe even a strong year or MVP year, I think he’s almost first ballot consideration for the Hall of Fame.”

Rollins said he takes it as a compliment that a great player of Schmidt’s caliber sees him as a Hall of Famer.

“To hear that from him, it made me smile,” Rollins said. “I thought it was pretty cool. I got his vote. It shows how much (Schmidt) respects what I do on the field, what I mean to this team and what I mean to the organization and I will really appreciate it.”

If there is something even harder than making it to the Hall of Fame for Rollins was living up to the tradition of great players that have come out of the Bay Area of San Francisco/Oakland. Some of those Bay area players include Hall of Famers like Joe DiMaggio, Frank Robinson, Joe Morgan and Rickey Henderson.

Rollins, who grew up in Oakland, said there was hard to live up to the deeds ofthose legendary players from his hometown. He said he’s talked to some of those players over the years.

“I’ve been able to accomplish some things that they have and I’m very proud of that,” Rollins said. “In all honest y, there was a lot of pressure knowing that tradition. It was like am I going to ever live up to that? I’ve been able to accomplish some things that I’m proud of when I talk to them.”

 

Phillies Are Not Even Close to Being Contenders

3 Jun

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Roberto Hernandez had a rough night in an 11-2 loss to the Mets.

Roberto Hernandez had a rough night in an 11-2 loss to the Mets.

PHILADELPHIA—You would like to think that because it’s only June that there is plenty of time for the last-place Phillies, who are now six and one-half games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves, to right their ship and back into contention.

Considering that the Phillies (24-31) lost four out of five games to a New York Mets squad that is quite frankly just as bad as they are, you gotta have a lot of faith to think the Phils can turn it around. I mean a whole lot of faith to believe this team can get it together.

“We have to get better at everything. That’s the whole goal,” said Phillies second baseman Chase Utley in a rare post-game interview with reporters. “I don’t think there’s any one thing missing. We have to hit better and we have to play better defense.”

Looking at the way they are playing at this point in the season, it might be an accomplishment if they can just get to .500. The playoffs, even in the era of two wildcard teams, are way out of the question. The July 31st trade deadline is looking more and more like a fire sale.

Monday’s 11-2 loss to the Mets was a combination of bad pitching, a lack of offense, poor defense and a horrific night by the bullpen. It was a microcosm of a bad season by a lackluster team.

“I would say that we’ve showed signs of fundamental baseball,” said manager Ryne Sandberg. “We’ve played better defense than we did in this series. It’s just putting together the pitching, the defense, executing throughout the game and having some timely hits and getting some better run support. Putting it all together or more parts of the game together.”

The starting pitching, which has had some good moments this season, fell completely apart in the series finale against the Mets. Starter pitcher Roberto Hernandez, who has pitched well in his starts throughout the season, had a bad night or more accurately one bad inning.

For the game, Hernandez (2-2) gave up five runs, four came in the sixth inning when the Mets sent 10 men to the plate a pair of RBI doubles by David Wright and Willmer Flores put the Phillies in a 5-0 hole from which they never recovered.

The Phillies had a chance to minimize the damage in that inning when Mets first baseman Lucas Duda hit a routine ground ball to Utley who mishandled a ball that should have led to an inning-ending double-play. Instead, it loaded the bases and Flores got the double to break the game open.

On offense, the Phillies scored their runs on an RBI groundout by Ryan Howard that scored Cesar Hernandez in the sixth and a wild pitch by Mets pitcher Jeurys Familia that scored centerfielder Ben Revere from third in the eighth.

In both of those innings, the Phillies had the first two men reach with nobody out and got just two runs out of it. They were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. If there is anything that’s been consistent about this team is its futility with runners in scoring position.

The bullpen, which came into the game with a 1.60 earned run average since May 22, gave up six runs in the ninth inning, including a grand-slam home run to Flores, who had not hit a home run all year for the Mets. That sent the fans, some of whom were doing Eagles and Flyers chants, rushing to the exits.

The Phllies finished the homestand with just four wins in 11 games. They are 12-19 at home for the season. Teams that contend don’t struggle at home. The 2014 Phillies should never be confused with a team that is contending for anything.

When you look at their starting lineup, you have guys who are capable of hitting and yet they don’t do it on a consistent basis. Ryan Howard is either feast or famine. He was 8-for-45 during the homestand, but also had four home runs and 15 runs batted in.

You also have guys like Marlon Byrd, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins, who are not having bad years individually. But they haven’t come through in clutch situations with any kind of consistency. Domonic Brown, who was an All-Star last season, is only hitting .206 with just four home runs and 27 runs batted in.

Yet, Sandberg believes his squad is still capable of being a good team that can put together some wins to get back in the pennant race.

“We showed better baseball than what we’ve played overall and I believe the core group is there,” Sandberg said.

 

Wheeler and the Mets Stifle Frustrating Phillies

30 May

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

 

Marlon Byrd's solo home run was the Phillies source of offense in the loss to the Mets. Webster Riddick.

Marlon Byrd’s solo home run was the Phillies source of offense in the loss to the Mets. Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—If there’s anything you can almost count on this season when you’re watching the Phillies, you never know which team is going to show up on a nightly basis.

After getting a walk-off home run by Ryan Howard to win on Wednesday, that other Phillies team showed up. You know the one that can’t seem to hit or score with runners in scoring position or commit a costly error. The team that stays near .500, but can’t seem quite get beyond it.

That above-mentioned Phillies team was on the short end of a 4-1 loss to the New York Mets Thursday night at Citizen’s Bank Park in front of 26, 688 fans, most of whom probably went home shaking their heads in utter bewilderment.

With the exception of Marlon Byrd’s solo home run in the seventh, the Phillies offense was basically nonexistent and they made Mets starting pitcher Zach Wheeler (2-5, 4.31 ERA) look like the second-coming of Roger Clemens or Tom Seaver.

Wheeler had nine strikeouts and zero walks while allowing the one run on four hits. The Phillies as a team struck out 15 times against Mets pitching.

“Tonight it looked like (Wheeler) had pretty good stuff. I would say that his record doesn’t indicate the kind of stuff that he had tonight,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. “We were just behind in the count the whole game. We couldn’t pull the trigger on his fast ball. He got better as the game wento on with his breaking stuff. Even the relievers had some pretty stuff.”

Meanwhile, Phillies rookie starting David Buchanan didn’t have a bad outing. It wasn’t all that great and wouldn’t have been that bad if he had some run support. In six and two-thirds innings, he allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits, two walks and a strikeout.

Buchanan showed some flashes of toughness in this game. In the second inning, he allowed the first three Mets—Lucas Duda, Chris Young, and shortstop Wilmer Flores to reach on singles.

But the sinker ball-throwing Phillies righthander got Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud to hit into a 6-4-3 double play while Duda crossed the plate to score the game’s first run to give the Mets a 1-0. He got Wheeler to ground out to short to end the inning.

“That’s a situation where you have to bear down and minimize the damage,” said Buchanan, who is now 1-1 with a 3.86 earned run average. “According to the laws of baseball, that guy’s on third is supposed to score anyway. To get out with one run is minimize the damage of what you’re supposed to do. We had a good double play up the middle and that’s all you can ask for.”

In the fourth inning, Young hit a two-run homer to left center give the Mets a 3-0 lead. New York’s final run of the game came in the fourth inning. After a single by Wheeler, Mets centerfielder Juan Lagares reached first when Phillies third baseman Cesar Hernandez short hopped the throw to the baseman.

After Daniel Murphy flied out to center, a slowly hit ground ball by David Wright landed in Hernandez’s at third.

But instead of stepping on the bag at third to get the force or just throwing the ball to first, Hernandez hesitated and threw the ball to second, but second base umpire Marvin Hudson said Lagares was safe and the bases were loaded. Buchanan walked Curtis Granderson, allowing Wheeler to score from third.

It was just another one of those head-scratching nights for a team that can’t seem to get out of the way of themselves.

128 Pitches and A Hit Ain’t One: Beckett’s No-Hitter Reflective of Phillies Poor Offense

25 May

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Dodgers starting pitcher Josh Beckett held the Phillies hitless in LA's 6-0 win. Photo by Chris Murray.

Dodgers starting pitcher Josh Beckett held the Phillies hitless in LA’s 6-0 win. Photo by Chris Murray.

PHILADELPHIA—Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett threw 128 pitches on a warm Sunday afternoon at Citizen’s Bank Park and the Phillies couldn’t hit any of them.

Thanks to an effective mixing  of his pitches, Beckett tossed his first career no-hitter as the Dodgers came away with a 6-0 shutout victory over a visibly frustrated Phillies squad that has forgotten how to hit and score runs at their home park.

“Amazing,” said Phillies rightfielder Marlon Byrd. “He used his curve ball like I’ve never seen him. He did everything off of that. The guy hit his spots. All nine, no hits.”

Beckett said he wasn’t nervous about throughout the course of the game. He said he was kidding around with his teammates in the dugout about it during the fourth inning. In baseball lore, it is supposedly bad luck to even think that you’re going to toss a no-hitter, especially in the middle innings.

“I was joking around about it. No one else was joking about it,” Beckett said. “I was telling (manager Don Mattingly) in the fourth inning, it’s threes inning than I’ve taken one before. It was an ongoing joke. In the fifth inning, this four innings than I’ve ever taken on before.”

While you definitely have to tip your cap to an outstanding performance by a pitcher who is probably heading to the Hall of Fame, Beckett’s no-hitter against the Phillies was something that was bound to happen sooner or later given the Phillies inability to get timely hits and score.

“We’ve had our ups and downs at home with scoring runs,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. “We’ve scored in bunches and we’ve had some closed spots. It’s something we need to improve on and that’s the whole lineup that needs to care of that.”

The no-hitter was reflective of the Phillies offensive’s inconsistency and in their inability to figure out the problem and solve it.

In five of their last 10 home games, the Phillies haven’t been able to score runs. It’s the second time in two days they have been kept off the scoreboard. They can’t buy hits when they have runners in scoring position. In the Phillies two losses to the Dodgers this weekend, they are 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

In Beckett’s no-hitter, the Phillies didn’t get a runner in scoring position until the bottom of the ninth inning when Jimmy Rollins reached on a walk and then stole second base without a throw from the catcher, which is ruled as a fielder’s choice- defensive indifference.

You have to wonder are they this bad on offense? Is it a case of them pressing or trying too hard in their approach to the plate?

“You want to get the job done regardless,” Byrd said. “Nobody goes out there and tries not to get any hits. You want to drive in runs, you want to get on base and make things happen. Pressing? It’s a good possibility when you have chances with runners in scoring position and need a big inning and they put up one or two runs and you’re trying to come.

“The way it looks when you’re watching games, it could look like we’re pressing.”

In spite of all their hitting woes, Sandberg is optimistic that his team won’t wallow in their current funk for long. He said he expects to them to get back on the wagon and starting hitting again.

“I’d say the attitude of our guys is to get right back out there tomorrow and do something about it,” said Sandberg when he was asked if his team would feel a snow-ball effect from their hitting woes. “That’s the character of the guys they’ve been able to bounce back from losses and some tough games that’s what I anticipate tomorrow.”

Conspicuously absence from the Phillies postgame club house were its long time stars in Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Rollins, who gave a short, terse response to reporters as he was leaving the locker room: “(Beckett) was good. There’s nothing else to be said.”

For those guys, the three faces of this franchise not to speak to the media about this game and the way this team is playing is absolutely appalling. Phillies fans deserve a lot more than that from their franchise players. You have to be a stand-up guy when things are going well and be able to face the music when things are going bad.