It would be tempting to blame the Phillies' tailspin on absent players but that would only tell part of this sad story. In truth, their four straight losses at home are as much the responsibility of the players who were present and accounted for, especially the bullpen.
Kyle Lohse, who has been disparaged in this space, gave the Phillies a quality start and deserved to win. Tom Gordon and Brett Myers followed and threw his good work away. Gordon continued his string of inept appearances surrendering a tying home run and Myers cemented once and for all his reputation as a Jekyll or Hyde, giving up not one but two ninth inning home runs as the Phils lost to San Diego 4-3 to fall four games behind the Padres and Dodgers in the Wild Card chase and seven games behind division-leading NY.
I've seen enough of Myers' routine. He never fulfilled his early promise as a starter and he's just as unreliable as a closer. Myers is a career mediocrity. Were the Phillies in a better position to deal pitching, he'd be my first candidate to go. As it is, they are such a mess in the rotation and pen they are forced to hold onto Myers and their noses every time he goes out there. Myers also further cemented his reputation as a loose canon by going on an expletive-filled tirade in the locker room after the game. He's never going to change on or off the field.
Precious little good happened last night apart from Lohse's performance. Pat Burrell's homer in the opening frame was his 20th of the season, tying him with Bobby Abreu (7 seasons) for second behind Mike Schmidt (14) in consecutive seasons with 20 or more home runs. Ryan Howard, one of those present and accounted for players who has performed dismally of late, stroked two hits, drove in a run, walked and did not strike out at all for the first time in memory. Howard's pained expression after each AB has become commonplace, reminiscent of Burrell's from previous seasons. One game is hardly a breakout, but if the Phils expect to recover he is the offensive key along with the expected return of Chase Utley.
Kyle Kendrick takes the mound today to try and salvage one game against the Padres, who will have visited Philadelphia without sending thier top two pitchers, Jake Peavy and Chris Young, to the mound. The Phillies wish they had two top pitchers to withhold let alone expose.