Problem is, 223 days later, Manuel can say the same thing about his current team - albeit in a midseason slump as opposed to losing the World Series.
"Exactly," Manuel said. "We are not playing good right now at all. We're inconsistent."
That can be said for every player on the 25-man roster, including Roy Halladay.
The Phillies' ace allowed six runs in six innings, including three home runs, tying a career high. Five of the eight hits the Yankees had off Halladay were for extra bases.
And even Halladay, who is as cool and collected on the mound as anyone, displayed visible signs of frustration Tuesday. As he came off the mound in the sixth, he yelled at no one in particular.
"You try and hold things in as long as you can while you're out there sometimes," Halladay said. "There's certain points where you let it go."
As Halladay was roughed up by the Yankees, a New York fan yelled, "This is the American League now, Roy!" Well, Halladay should know. He did, after all, spend 12 years with the Toronto Blue Jays, facing the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees with regularity.
But in 2010, Halladay's first year in the National League, he has made two starts against AL teams (Boston and New York). His ERA in those games (112/3 innings) is 9.26. His ERA against NL teams is 1.51.
Going into Tuesday's game, Halladay had dominated the Yankees in the past with an 18-6 record and 2.84 ERA in 35 career starts. The Yankees jumped on him early.
His cutter was flat. He allowed a two-run triple to Brett Gardner on a cutter in the second. In the third, Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer on a 2-0 cutter. And in the fifth, Mark Teixiera hit a solo home run just over the 314-foot marker on the right-field wall off a 1-2 cutter.
Halladay acknowledged the pressure the starting pitchers have faced during the offensive slump.
"It's hard playing all the time with your back against the wall," Halladay said. "As a starter, you have to give us a chance to get ahead and get some runs. You can't put yourself down early. It makes it tough."
Flashes of hope - like Raul Ibanez's eight-pitch at-bat against Sabathia that resulted in an RBI single in the fourth - were quickly erased. In the fifth, with the bases loaded and two outs, Ibanez rolled over on a 94-m.p.h. Sabathia fastball and grounded out to second.
"We were a hit away from really crawling back into the game," Manuel said. "Raul couldn't get it. That's the way it goes. That's the way we've been playing."
After the game, a solemn Manuel was as dejected as he has been all season. He said he still has patience. But following their ace, the Phillies will counter the Yankees' powerful bats with Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick in the next two days.
As reporters shuffled out of his office, the manager picked up the lineup card on his desk and blankly stared at it one last time.
"I expect them to grind it out," Manuel said. "I keep saying that every night. But it's the only thing we can do. I don't know what else we can do."
Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at 215-854-2928 or email@example.com.
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