Blue Jays sweep the Phillies

Thome and Mayberry homered, but it simply wasn't enough.

Posted: June 19, 2012

TORONTO - Jim Thome stood in the center of the room with his white dress shirt still untucked and took one look around as his Phillies teammates dressed for a plane ride home.

"We've got winners," Thome said. "We've got guys who have been through it in big, big games. How do you explain that? It's hard to, sometimes. Baseball is a weird game."

That is a season spiraling toward irrelevancy in the middle of June. Sunday spawned more Phillies frustration in the form of a listless 6-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, who capped a three-game sweep at the Rogers Centre.

The Phillies are a season-high six games under .500 - a feat not achieved since April 21, 2007. They have lost 12 of their last 15 games and finished this American League trip at 3-6. They are 4-12 in June.

"I basically have said everything I can say, or want to say, or whatever," a despondent Charlie Manuel said. "We're just going to have to come out and play better. I think we know what we have to do; getting it done is another thing. We just have to come out and play better, play better baseball, outplay the other team. They outplayed us today."

The manager lamented mistakes Saturday after losing. His team was simply beaten Sunday, even though catcher Carlos Ruiz was back in the lineup two days after suffering a strained ribcage muscle.

Kyle Kendrick allowed at least five runs for the third consecutive start. The offense, facing a pitcher who began 2012 at double A and made his season debut Sunday, napped. Brett Cecil won his first game in 324 days.

Making matters worse, first-place Washington lost Sunday for the third straight time, meaning this weekend was a lost opportunity to gain ground. The Phillies trail by nine games.

"I think it's definitely not early," Manuel said, "but at the same time we have to take care of business ourselves. We can't be looking at Washington right now. We have to dig ourselves out. If we win games, that will take care of itself."

Manuel's job becomes harder Tuesday when he can no longer insert Thome into the heart of his lineup. The future Hall of Famer mashed another home run, the 608th of his career, Sunday. In Thome's nine-game stint as designated hitter, he hit .333 (12 for 36) with eight runs, two doubles, four home runs, and 14 RBIs.

The 41-year-old is now a bench player without the benefit of the designated-hitter role.

"First base is out of the question," Manuel said.

He recently has spoken about the energy Thome brought to his lineup, comparing it to that of Chase Utley's or Ryan Howard's presence. Thome is at peace with his fate.

"That's part of my role," Thome said. "The main thing for me is to do the best, get into a rhythm, a routine, and try to figure that routine out the best I can going forward. But it sure was nice to get the at-bats, no doubt."

The roof opened at the Rogers Centre moments before Thome belted his homer to right, and a Canadian sunshine crept into the building. John Mayberry Jr. launched one to left field four batters later.

From there, everything predictably turned worse for the Phillies.

Kendrick was not sharp early. Six pitches into the first inning, the Phillies trailed after back-to-back doubles to almost exactly the same spot in left-center field rudely greeted him.

Two Blue Jays fourth-inning bleeders up the middle, with a hit batter in between, scored another run. In the fifth, Colby Rasmus drilled a Kendrick fastball to the second deck in right for a two-run bomb. The hole had been dug, and it was plenty deep.

"I felt like I pitched a lot better than my numbers show," Kendrick said.

The Phillies are 3-7 in Kendrick starts this season. Since a shutout of St. Louis on May 26, he has allowed 18 runs in 211/3 innings for a 7.59 ERA.

He is hardly the lone culprit for a free-falling team.

"We're better off just sending our guys out there and letting them play and see what they can do," Manuel said. "Really. They can relax, play as loose as they can, and maybe we'll play better."

That optimism is all that remains.

Contact Matt Gelb


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