About a month ago, the Phillies embarked on a road trip, that was deemed by some as make or break. They returned with a winning record for the jaunt and planted seeds of hope.
But much changed in June. The Phillies started the month with an abysmal 3-7 road trip against three bad teams and just finished off a disappointing home stand by losing a series to the Mets.
If the Phillies, on the road until July 4, come back with a losing record from this West Coast trip, hope will be gone and perhaps Jonathan Papelbon and Kyle Kendrick will follow.
“We have to win on this trip and get back to where we belong,” Ben Revere said. “There’s too much talent on this team not to do better.”
But even perpetually sunny manager Charlie Manuel has his doubts and who can blame him. The Phillies have trouble scoring. They lead baseball with 52 solo home runs.
“We need guys to get on base,” Revere said. “I’m trying.”
At least Revere has been much more successful offensively in June than he was the first two months of the season. He has shown some promise at the plate and he is a threat to steal every time he’s on the bases. However, Revere — he looked lost in center Sunday — has made his share of bad plays in center this season.
“Don’t blame it all on Revere,” a NL executive said. “He’s been disappointing, but it’s been a team effort. The Phillies have come up short in many ways.”
The bullpen is a mess. Delmon Young has been a disappointment. The team has received little production out of their catchers. Chase Utley missed nearly a month due to an oblique injury. Ryan Howard is playing on a bad knee.
But the crazy thing is that the Phillies are still within shouting distance of the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves. The West Coast has been a panacea for the Phillies over recent seasons.
“For some reason, we play really well out there,” Jimmy Rollins said. “We know that we can do it again. We’re capable of playing well there.”
The Phillies have to play really well. If they don’t return from the trip, which takes them to San Diego, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, with at least a 7-3 mark, it just might be all over this season
“We’re confident we’ll do well out there,” Revere said. “We know we have to win.”
Revere has picked it up offensively, but his sloppy defense is hurting the Phillies. During the ninth inning of the Phillies-Mets finale, Revere received sarcastic applause after making a number of defensive blunders.
“It’s surprising,” a NL scout said. “When he played center in Minnesota, he looked great last season. But this year, he’s had so much trouble. Do you think the Phillies miss (Shane) Victorino or what?”