Philly fans are noted for their venom towards rivals and they have plenty across the spectrum of the four major sports played in the City of Brotherly Love. The Cowboys and Giants are the enemies on the gridiron and foils that have historically prevented the beloved birds from winning a Super Bowl. The Sixers have the Celtics and to a lesser degree the Knicks, while the Flyers have the Penguins, Rangers and Devils.
The Phillies don’t really have a historic rival, due in large part to a period of ineptitude but during their resurgence of late they have developed a rivalry with the Mets, albeit a one sided one, with the Phillies playing the role of school yard bully and the Mets being the one getting their lunch money taken. This dominance is just one of the reasons being swept by the Mets is so galling for Phillies fans.
Making matters worse is the fact that they had the lead in the ninth inning of their first of the three game series only to see off season acquisition Jonathon Papelbon give up a three run home run to a rookie pinch hitter. They also had the lead in the 7th inning of game 2 only to see it evaporate due to blunders in the field and timely hitting from the Mets and David Wright who had two hits and two RBI. The trend continued in game three of the series with the Mets spoiling Cliff Lee’s return from the DL. Lee allowed two runs on five hits through six innings, but Kyle Kendrick couldn’t hold the lead Lee gave him and the Mets were able to sneak away with a sweep.
The Philly fans weren’t the only ones disgruntled by the performance; usually low key manager Charlie Manuel called a team meeting after the loss. The Phillies have struggled throughout the young season, especially at the plate with the absence of their three-four hitters, but this loss had rock bottom written all over it. It was the third game of a series to a division rival where you’ve already blown two games.
If ever there was a time to sharpen your focus it would be at home in front of fans who are expecting more then you’ve been delivering. What those fans got instead was Kyle Kendrick allowing the tying run to score by plunking a pinch hitter with the bases loaded. An RBI groundout later gave the Mets the lead, but that’s not the worst of it. The next inning Kendrick would return amid boos and gave up a double to David Wright who was driven in by Scott Hairston on his double. Kendrick was relieved by Jose Contreras who didn’t fare much better. Hunter Pence fumbled a routine fly ball and one batter later Ike Davis blasted a home run.
Things have been looking up since though. The Phils have reeled off four out of five – granted against the Padres and Astros – but four wins nonetheless. The issues these loses illuminate can be productive to a point but they’re really nothing the Phillies weren’t aware of. The bullpen was the guiltiest party, blowing leads their aces handed them and the Phillies are done if they start losing games where they get solid performances from their starters. Papebon has been a good addition but he’s really not much of an upgrade and the rest of the relief core outside of Bastardo is dismal. The offense has been inconsistent and stagnant at times, with Hunter Pence leading the way with 9 homers and 25 RBI despite some bad at bats during their slide. Carlos Ruiz has also been hitting well posting a .337 BA along with 23 RBI. Pence also provided some thrills Tuesday night when he hit a walk off homer against his former team to make up for another costly error. This win had some significance since it allowed the Phillies to end a drought of three game winning stenches. It has been 37 games without a three game streak which was the longest such streak to start a season since 1971. The Phillies have some momentum going into a series with Chicago at Wrigley before welcoming the Red Sox to Citizens Bank Park which will feature a Cliff Lee-Josh Beckett rematch from last year.
About the Author
Written by Tom Bopp