One trademark of this current Phillies team is their inconsistent play. A mere week after playing some of the most exciting baseball seen around these parts in many a season and in the process climbing to within two games of division-leading New York, the Phils dropped two out of three to the lowly Florida Marlins and the first of three to the Braves to fall five games off the pace.
In the process all the bad habits that have plagued them off and on all year reappeared: bad starting pitching, bad relief pitching, and failing to hit with runners in scoring position. Apart from Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, the offense has pulled another disappearing act, especially Ryan Howard who cannot seem to put together more than a week of good swings before reverting to lunging after balls out of the strike zone or taking called third strikes. He is on a pace to set a major league record for strikeouts, no mean feat when one considers thousands and thousands of people have come before him.
Adam Eaton is another culprit in the current swoon, squandering a five run lead he was handed the other day en route to a devastating loss. Let's not really fault Eaton, however, because he's just doing what he's always done, which is to say not much. Instead, let's put the blame squarely where it belongs for his signing: the GM's office. Meanwhile, there hasn't been a single public word about negotiations, if any, with Aaron Rowand. Try and recall the last time a team's starting centerfielder, acquired at considerable cost and eligible for free agency, who moreover has been hitting over .300 all season, is not even the subject of speculation about whether or not he is returning? Pat Gillick moves in mysterious ways, but when it comes to Rowand we haven't seen nor heard any movement. Perhaps if he were a Rule 5 player or had been with four teams in four months he would at least be the subject of rumors.
Nearly one week into September there aren't a lot of games remaining to make up ground. A big series looms in New York and might represent the last chance at a division title...provided the Phils are not eight or nine games out by the time they get there.