The Philadelphia Phillies own the best record in baseball, but they haven’t looked anything like the top team in the major leagues of late.
The Phillies try to avoid a record-setting ninth straight loss and their longest skid in more than 12 years when they face the New York Mets on Sunday.
Since clinching its fifth consecutive NL East title with a victory last Saturday, Philadelphia (98-60) has dropped eight straight, the latest two losses coming in Saturday’s doubleheader against New York (76-82).
Philadelphia is on the verge of becoming the first team in MLB history to lose nine in a row after clinching a playoff berth. The Phillies haven’t suffered nine consecutive defeats since an 11-game slide Sept. 4-14, 1999.
“I’m sitting there watching it. Don’t know what I can do about it,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “If you want to know the truth, our team’s out of sync, definitely out of focus, and we’re not playing.
“You guys see how we’re playing. The teams that we’re losing to, we stop and look at our record against them this year and everything. There ain’t too much going our way right now.”
The Phillies have scored a major league-worst 2.0 runs per game since Sept. 18, when the losing streak began.
“Of course, yeah, you lose eight in a row, people are going to panic,” outfielder Shane Victorino(notes) said. “But I’m not worried. We haven’t had our full lineup out there guys, relax. We haven’t had one through eight.”
Roy Halladay(notes) (18-6, 2.41 ERA) has won all six starts with a 1.89 ERA against New York while with Philadelphia, and has limited the Mets to one run in two outings spanning 16 innings this season.
Halladay, though, wasn’t sharp in a 4-3 loss to St. Louis on Monday, yielding four runs and a season-high four walks in eight innings. He’ll try for a second time to become the first Phillie to win 40 games over a two-season span since Steve Carlton had 42 from 1979-80.
“With what’s happened with us as of late, to beat that team, as good as they are, I don’t care who else is on the field, it’s big for us,” manager Terry Collins said. “We need the confidence that we can compete.”
Pelfrey doesn’t carry much momentum into this outing after allowing five runs and 10 hits over six innings of an 11-6 road defeat to the Cardinals on Tuesday.
The right-hander, one loss shy of a career high, is 1-2 with a 6.84 ERA in five starts against the Phillies this season. However, he has gone 5-3 with a 3.05 ERA in 10 career home matchups with Philadelphia.