They lost the kind of game they really have to win if they're going to stay afloat until the rescue crew arrives. Ace Cole Hamels was staked to a 3-0 lead. Hamels gave it back, but still the Phillies had plenty of opportunities to rally and assure themselves of a series win against the Marlins.
"We were sitting right there today," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We definitely could have won the game. It was ours for the taking. We just didn't get the big hit at the right time. That's what it is when you come back: Things work for you."
An umpire blows a call in the Mets-Cardinals game Friday and it leads to a no-hitter for Johan Santana. An umpire blows a call the next day and it costs the Phillies a crucial ninth-inning out.
After Placido Polanco led off with a sharp single off wobbly Marlins closer Heath Bell, Freddy Galvis bunted down the first-base line. First baseman Logan Morrison charged, scooped up the ball, and swept his glove at Galvis as he scooted by. Umpire Doug Eddings called Galvis out. Galvis stood there, arms spread in disbelief.
The replay showed Morrison's glove might have ticked Galvis's jersey, a tag so light Galvis wouldn't have felt it. But Eddings didn't call that. He said Galvis ran outside the base path, and that most certainly did not happen. It was the wrong call. But then, the intent of the bunt was to sacrifice pinch-runner Mike Fontenot, the potential tying run, over to second.
With one out and the pitcher's spot up, Manuel called on lefthanded Brian Schneider to pinch-hit against the righthanded Bell.
Here's where the chicken and the egg come in. Why Schneider? Because Jim Thome is on the disabled list. Because Laynce Nix is on the disabled list. Because the only other lefthanded bat available was Cliff Lee. Come to think of it, the Phillies could do worse.
No knock on Schneider here. He battled Bell, who looked as if he wanted to be anywhere other than the mound. Schneider fouled off three two-strike pitches, then worked a full count. On the ninth pitch of his at-bat, he popped out
Jimmy Rollins, who beat out an infield single to drive in one run and tripled and scored another in the eighth inning, popped up a 3-1 pitch to end the game and give Bell a reprieve.
The lack of a lefthanded bat was a factor in that eighth inning, too. After Rollins tripled, Juan Pierre drew a walk and stole second. Hunter Pence's sacrifice fly to right scored Rollins and advanced Pierre to third.
Carlos Ruiz, batting in Ryan Howard's cleanup spot, struck out. That brought up Ty Wigginton against Steve Cishek, a righthander with a funky sidearm motion that is brutal on righthanded hitters. It was the perfect place for a lefty pinch-hitter. But there was only Schneider. And Lee.
Wigginton also struck out, but not before lashing a ball down the left-field line. The sellout crowd drew breath, expecting the ball to fall for an RBI double. It fell a few feet foul.
"Ty hits that ball down the line and it's foul," Manuel said. "When you're going good, that's in play and things happen. They didn't happen."
The Phillies are winless in 20 games when they trail after seven innings. They were 12-43 in such games last season, 7-52 in 2010, and 7-53 in 2009. They were 11-53 in the 2008 championship season.
So it's not as if they came from behind and won every night. Still, you had the feeling those teams were never out of it until the final out was recorded. Of course, those teams had Howard and Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez and a solid bullpen.
With these Phillies, the late-inning rallies come when they're already ahead and serve mostly to deprive Jonathan Papelbon of save opportunities.
"We didn't pull it out," Shane Victorino said, "but we put ourselves in situations where we could have tied the game or gone ahead. Earlier in the season, we weren't even getting to that point. The last three weeks or so, we've been one swing away from tying the game or going ahead. I look at that as a positive sign."
It is a chicken, at least. Now if it would just lay something other than goose eggs.
Contact Phil Sheridan at 215-854-2844 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Sheridanscribe and his blog
Read his columns at philly.com/philsheridan