Let's not beat around the bush: Jonathan Papelbon's act has grown old. His overall stats may be good, but therein lies the limitation of relying on stats. A couple of lousy outings in a row and suddenly the team's momentum, never barreling ahead at full steam anyway, is stopped dead in its tracks. The stare. The histrionics. The delivery. None of Papelbon's wearisome repertoire could save the game.
Update: Papelbon was blaming the Phils' lack of "fundamentals" after the game claiming he was surprised Ryan Howard was playing in when leadoff batter Denard Span opened the ninth inning by beating out an infield hit forcing the closer to cover first base. Sorry, Pap, Howard was told to play in for the speedy Span. He didn't issue the subsequent walk and base hit.
Last night's inexcusable loss to the Nationals typifies the stumbling, bumbling inability of this year's version of the Phillies to play good baseball. Recipients of a stellar performance by starter Kyle Kendrick, the offense's chronic anemia and Papelbon's ineptitude let the Nats stay close behind their own fine starting pitcher, former Phils' farmhand Gio Gonzalez and finally tie the game in their last regulation AB's.
Every time the Phillies creep within .500, they play a game like last night's. Only the mediocrity of the top teams in the NL East keeps them in the race. A look at the rest of the league makes it clear, however, the Phils have to win the Division. No Wild Card is coming out of the NL East this year.
It says here no Division winner is coming out of the Delaware Valley either!