Another Late Inning Loss Has Philadelphia Phillies Spiraling Downward

Aumont

Howard Smith – USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies have fallen prey to the same two patterns that caused them so much grief in 2012. The culprits are a lackluster, inconsistent offense and an anemic bullpen.

For the second time in as many days, Phillies relievers failed to finish win-worthy starts by Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s too reminiscent of the late-inning collapses that doomed last year’s team.

One of the reasons the Philies went out and obtained Mike Adams, signing him to a two-year $12 million contract, was to stave off these exact situations.

On Wednesday night, the combination of Antonio Bastardo, Adams and Jeremy Horst couldn’t get the job done. Adams alone faced four batters in the eighth inning, walked two and gave up two hits.

Today, it was Phillippe Aumont who blew the save opportunity. This is a bullpen in turmoil. And, with the offense taking every other night off, there is added pressure on the relievers to finish games successfully.

In all fairness, the bullpen has been expected to close games in serious trouble due to the continued lack of strategic hitting. Their safety cushion for mistakes has been razor-thin.

In a rare burst of power, Ryan Howard hit only his second round tripper of the year on Wednesday night. It’s a wonder you-know-where didn’t freeze over. It was the first time he went yard on an 0-2 count since 2008.

Howard’s solo shot followed Chase Utley‘s dinger and both landed in the second-deck. While these home runs were spectacular, they didn’t earn the Phillies a much-needed win.

This style of baseball has been typical for recent Phillies teams. Much of the blame can be laid at the doorstep of general manager, Reuben Amaro Jr., who did nothing during the offseason to improve the offensive capabilities of the Phillies.

The growing chasm between the NL East division leading teams and the Phillies is cause for concern. The “early season” excuses ring hollow. Losing can become habitual unless a strong leader steps up and willfully changes a team’s momentum.

There’s a leadership void on this team and there’s been one for several years. It’s the missing ingredient. Until someone puts themselves on the line and decides to make a difference, these Phillies will continue on a downward spiral.

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