The Philadelphia Phillies have had unexpected problems with two lowly teams this season. Phillies fans like myself were not happy that they lost 10 times to the New York Mets before this week. What's more, we were even less pleased when the bottom-feeding Houston Astros beat Philadelphia three times this past weekend to put it on life support. The Phillies did finally have their way with the Mets this week - yet the Astros continued to kill them anyway.
Philadelphia completed a crucial three-game sweep of New York by slaughtering the Mets on Sept. 20, with eight runs in the first and seven in the ninth. But the 16-1 blowout technically did nothing for the Phillies, thanks to the Astros also getting swept by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Houston clearly didn't carry over any momentum from its upsets over Philadelphia. This makes it even more head-scratching that the Phillies couldn't beat the Astros three or four straight times themselves. The Astros are now at 48-102 - and yet this is the team that beat the Phillies three times and all but killed this season twice over.
Why did Houston have to actually have one of its rare good stretches against Philadelphia - and why did it have to promptly collapse again when the Phillies really didn't need it? Those questions are likely to haunt Philadelphia all offseason, if nothing improves. And now that the Cardinals are still four games up on the Phillies with only 12 games to go, improvement seems less and less likely.
Philadelphia did stay on life support by sweeping New York, which should have been done a lot earlier. If the Phillies hadn't started 5-10 against the Mets this season, things would have been much different. Even one or two extra wins would have gotten them much closer to the Cardinals than they are now.
But because of suffering too many losses to both the Mets and Astros, the Phillies finally look dead in the water. Of course, there are far many more reasons why Philadelphia would miss the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Yet the Mets and Astros are handy scapegoats, since the Phillies should have beaten them a lot more and they didn't.
Houston added insult to injury by reverting back to its old, pathetic self at the worst possible time. If it had beaten St. Louis even once or twice, this sweep over New York could have been the jump start Philadelphia needed for one final push. Instead, the Phillies got one more reason to be relieved that the Astros are leaving the National League soon.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Phillies since he was eight years old.
Other stories from this contributor