The fans have the Phillies' number

RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Domonic Brown follows the flight of his first-inning, RBI triple into the rightfield corner.
RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Domonic Brown follows the flight of his first-inning, RBI triple into the rightfield corner.
Posted: July 09, 2013

I HATE THE Phillies . . . well, more specifically, I hate what the Phillies do to you. This team is the definition of frustration.

By now everyone should know that they are not good enough to make a legitimate run at the National League playoffs.

But on the other hand, they aren't quite bad enough for you to feel completely comfortable with writing them off.

Just when I thought I was out . . . they pull me back in.

Frankly speaking, it would be less complicated had the Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves yesterday instead of winning, 7-3.

The Phillies took two of three from NL East-leading Atlanta and moved to 7 1/2 games out. Once again they offer a shiny tray of fool's gold for anyone who still wants to believe.

Had they lost instead and dropped to 9 1/2 games back, no one would be tempted.

"I think what you see is we can put on a good run if we can play consistent baseball," said manager Charlie Manuel, one of the few people who has no choice but to believe the Phillies have a summer surprise left in them. "I've always said that during the course of a year you can hit a streak when you can win some games like six or eight in a row.

"Ours has yet to come, but if we keep grinding at it, we can definitely win. We've got some guys in our clubhouse who definitely know how to win. I think we've got some pluses going for us."

Personally, I'm not buying it anymore, and I'm a guy who predicted the Phillies would beat the Los Angeles Angels in the 2013 World Series.

Yeah, I know.

Anyway, I gave up on the Phillies being able to fight their way back into the race when they went 3-7 on a road swing through Milwaukee, Minnesota and Colorado in early June.

I've seen nothing since that makes me believe they can find any of the consistent play that Manuel keeps harping about.

The weekend series at Citizens Bank Park against the Braves was a perfect example of why the Phillies are so maddening. They won the series with yesterday's win, and under a lot of circumstances, winning a series against the team you're chasing would be a good thing.

But in this case the Phillies needed a sweep.

Yes, they picked up a game, but instead of 7 1/2 games back they could have been 5 1/2.

Do that and perhaps the Phillies could have brought a little life and enthusiasm into what is shaping up to be a long, hot summer of frustration.

It was about the way this series played out.

On Friday, the Phillies gained some initial momentum by opening the three-game set with a 5-4 victory.

That set up what seemed like another of an endless string of "biggest games of the season" on Saturday.

At the minimum you would have expected the Phillies to have evaluated their situation and come out with an effort worthy of a team reaching for a last grasp to get back into a playoff race.

The Phillies did just the opposite. They got routed, 13-4. They put forth one of their least enthusiastic efforts of the season. They came as close to rolling over and dying as a team could.

The biggest game of the year thus far and they played like they didn't care.

"It was their night," said Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick, who got knocked around for six runs and 12 hits in five innings.

You think?

The pathetic nature of Saturday's loss sucked the life out of CBP yesterday. It was like every fan knew the previous night's result had rendered that game meaningless.

Sure, they cheered when newly anointed All-Star Domonic Brown smashed his 23rd home run, and they got a kick when everyone's favorite minor leaguer, Darin Ruf - who finally made his 2013 big-league debut Saturday after Ryan Howard was placed on the 15-day disabled list - hit a double, drew a walk and scored two runs.

But the primary reaction from this fan base seems to be "we won't get fooled again."

Like I said, Saturday was just the latest of the biggest games of the season, and just like in most of the previous ones, the Phillies came up short.

Everybody has caught on.

The Phillies couldn't sell out one game during a three-game summer weekend series with the archrival Atlanta Braves. Two of the games did not clear 40,000.

Tonight the Phillies start a four-game home series against Washington, and in a reversal of past encounters, the Phillies likely won't sell out unless a large contingent of National fans decide to drive up I-95 North and try to take over South Philly.

DN Members Only : Ryan Howard is set for an MRI on his ailing knee.


Blog: ph.ly/DNL

Email: smallwj@phillynews.com

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