Northeast Times

Poor luck should not curse the Phils’ season

There was a play in Sunday’s series fi­nale against the Pitt­s­burgh Pir­ates that kind of sums up what the Phil­lies are go­ing through right now. 

In the top of the fourth in­ning, with his team trail­ing by a run, Do­mon­ic Brown ri­co­cheted a ball off of the second-base um­pire and in­to center­field. Ry­an Howard went from third to home, ty­ing the game, and Car­los Ruiz moved up to second base. 

Not so fast, though, as Ma­jor League rules state that once the ball hit the um­pire it be­came a dead ball. Howard could not ad­vance on the play even though Brown was awar­ded first base and Ruiz moved to second.

With the bases loaded, Wilson Valdez groun­ded in­to a double­play to end the in­ning and leave the Phil­lies down by one.  

They went on to win the game and avoid get­ting swept by the Pir­ates, but that short two-bat­ter se­quence high­lights the kind of scuff­ling the Phil­lies of­fense is deal­ing with right now. 

A lot of times in base­ball you hear about the ne­ces­sity of luck for a team to go deep in­to the post­season. That “luck” of­ten is re­ferred to when fluke plays help you win games, and right now, it doesn’t seem like that luck is on the Phil­lies’ side. 

I am still hold­ing to my stance that, while it is ad­mit­tedly frus­trat­ing to watch, there is far too much base­ball to play to get overly wor­ried right now. A snap­shot of the rest of the di­vi­sion might make this Phil­lies pill a bit easi­er to swal­low, as well. 

Throughout their past 10 games (un­til last Sunday), the Phil­lies had gone 5-5 while los­ing some out­ings to teams they really should beat with ease. 

Things hap­pen, though — like balls ri­co­chet­ing off um­pires — and the “luck” seems to be laugh­ing at the Phil­lies right now. 

The Flor­ida Mar­lins — the team right be­hind the Phil­lies in the stand­ings — had a golden op­por­tun­ity to make up some ground on the di­vi­sion lead­ers. They went 3-7 over that same 10-game span, though, and ac­tu­ally lost ground.

The At­lanta Braves, who were be­hind the Mar­lins, matched the Phil­lies’ 5-5 per­form­ance, mov­ing up on the Mar­lins but stay­ing the same dis­tance be­hind the Phils. 

The Phil­lies still lead the di­vi­sion by three games, plus they still have the best win­ning per­cent­age in all of base­ball. 

Not a bad po­s­i­tion to be in. 

There has been a bright spot in the strug­gling lineup, though. Do­mon­ic Brown, the Phil­lies’ heir-ap­par­ent to the right­field job, has been get­ting com­fort­able with his in­creased work­load of late. 

Over his last 10 games, the 23-year-old Brown had put to­geth­er 13 hits and two walks in 32 plate ap­pear­ances, while strik­ing out just three times. 

One of those 13 hits was his first home run of the sea­son, but what has been more im­press­ive is his con­sist­ency in mak­ing con­tact with the ball. 

In that game Sunday against the Pir­ates, Brown smoked a few balls down the right­field line that were just foul but had plenty of dis­tance to be a home run. Then there was that earli­er shot, which would have de­livered an RBI had that um­pire been a bit more agile. 

The biggest pos­it­ive to take from this is that these guys have been here be­fore. Howard, Chase Ut­ley, Jimmy Rollins … they all have gone through pro­longed struggles be­fore. 

They also have dealt with those struggles and won a World Series, as well as four con­sec­ut­ive Na­tion­al League East pen­nants. 

It’s fair to say that time is still on the Phil­lies’ side. ••

Colum­nist Matt God­frey can be reached at mgod­frey@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at mgodfrey@bsmphilly.com.

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