There are times when a Major League Baseball team can’t seem to catch a break, and the reasons are not so obvious.  Good news, Philadelphia Phillies fans: this is not one of those situations.

In losing Wednesday night to the New York Mets, the Phillies struggled with the same two problems that have killed them during the current eight game streak in which they are 2-6 against four inferior baseball teams.

Those two problems?  Simple: the pitchers aren’t pitching and the hitters aren’t hitting.

During the last eight games, the Phillies have scored 15 runs, but ten of those runs came in back-to-back games against the Cubs and Red Sox.  In the other six games, the Phillies have scored three runs once and one run twice while being shut out three times.

Meanwhile, Phillies pitchers can’t exactly blame the lack of support for these losses—in the last four games Phillies pitchers have allowed eight runs twice and five runs twice.

Let’s talk a little recent Phillies’ history:

The last time the Phillies were shut out three times inside of a week’s time was September 15 through September 19, 1992, when they were shutout by the Expos, Cubs, and Pirates three times in five games.  That Phillies team finished 70-92, which was good for last place in the NL East.

The last time the Phillies were shut out three times in four games was in June of 1990, when the Mets and the Pirates pulled off the feat.  That Phillies team finished 77-85, which was good for fourth place.

Now, to be fair, it hasn’t been an ordinary stretch of games for the Phillies.  Indeed, the Phillies have faced some wacky pitchers during the last week. 

The first loss of this stretch came against lefty-finesse guy Zach Duke, who is usually totally on or totally off.  The third loss of this stretch came against Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has about six different pitches that he likes to throw and came four outs from a no-hitter.

Then, the Phillies lost consecutive games to knuckleball pitchers Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey who, oh by the way, are buddies and exchange advance information about teams they’ve each faced.

It is bad enough that the Phillies became the first team to face back-to-back knuckleballers since the 1985 Detroit Tigers; evidently the Phillies were facing a guy on Tuesday who got a scouting report from the guy who had just faced them on Sunday, who had been in the park the previous night when his teammate almost pitched a no-hitter against them.

Finally, on Wednesday night the Phillies were shutout by a combination of Hisanori Takahashi and three relievers.  Takahashi, of course, just joined the Mets this season from Japan, so the Phillies haven’t had lots of opportunity to scout him.  He is also a left-hander, which makes him lethal against the Phils, and he has four pitches including a screwball.

In short, for the Phillies’ hitters, it has been a frustrating stretch featuring either left-handed pitchers or unorthodox pitchers with screwy stuff.  It has just been a bad stretch.

As for the pitching, while the Phillies are currently in the middle of a streak in which they have not scored a run off of a starting pitcher in 26 innings, Phillies starters have allowed 21 runs during that same period.  While we might expect to receive sub-par performances from Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton, and Kyle Kendrick, keep in mind that Roy Halladay gave up 7 runs during that period as well.

Unfortunately, things don’t get any easier in the next few days.  The Phillies send Cole Hamels to the mound in the finale in New York against Mike Pelfrey, who is having a terrific season (6-1, 2.86 ERA). 

The Phils then go on the road to Miami, where they’ll face unfavorable pitching matchups against the Marlins in the form of Kyle Kendrick against Chris Volstad and Jamie Moyer against Anibal Sanchez.  Even Roy Halladay will be facing off against Marlins ace Josh Johnson.

Following the Marlins, the Phils are on the road again in Atlanta—who is suddenly 2.5 games behind the Phillies—before returning home for a set next weekend against the San Diego Padres, the only team in the NL that currently has a better record than the Phillies.

This is a crucial time for the Philadelphia Phillies, and they look positively lost.  While no one expects the Philadelphia to sweep a nine game road trip against three divisional opponents, I think most Phillies fans would, at the very least, hope that the team was losing competitively rather than not even really showing up.

We know what is wrong with this team.  Now, let’s get out there and try to fix it.


Asher B. Chancey lives in Philadelphia and is a co-founder of

Read more MLB news on