The Philadelphia Phillies will likely look back on their three losses to the Houston Astros last weekend as season-killing. But Phillies fans like myself also have to blame the New York Mets if they fall short of the second wild card. Although New York has nothing to play for anymore, it still enjoyed a 10-5 record over Philadelphia going into their final series together.
This makes it more of a relief that the Phillies didn't lose to the Mets for an 11'th time on Sept. 17. After being nearly fatally wounded by the Astros, Philadelphia put a band-aid back on thanks to Cliff Lee, who outdueled R.A. Dickey for a crucial 3-1 victory.
It wouldn't have been a surprise if he lost, given the Phillies' sudden misfortune and their lack of luck against the Mets. Before those three losses to Houston, Philadelphia's most costly defeats in the last month came against New York on Aug. 28 and Aug. 29. Despite beating up on the superior Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds in a two-week span, two losses in between to the inferior Mets did a lot of damage.
Without those inexcusable losses, the Phillies could have been one or two games back for the second wild card by the time they faced the Astros. Yet these five recent defeats to these two poor ball clubs are all that stands between Philadelphia and postseason contention. For that matter, so are the 10 losses it suffered to New York throughout the season.
The Mets started hot and then tanked in the second half, while the Phillies started badly and have just gotten better. But the one constant has been New York's relative dominance of Philadelphia - -and if it had continued this week, it would have officially killed the season. Yet the win on Sept. 17 was a good start towards making sure that doesn't happen.
If the Phillies can sweep the Mets and get back in the race, it will make it even more inexcusable that they lost so much to the Astros - and lost so much to the Mets earlier this year. But that is life in Philadelphia this season, as a lack of consistency doomed it from the start. However, the final near-nail in the coffin has come from not beating the teams the Phillies are supposed to - even as they beat the contenders they're not supposed to.
On paper, the Phillies should have an easier time with the Mets from now on, after they already beat Dickey and avoided a carryover effect from the Astros series. Yet for Philadelphia, a lot of things that have looked easy on paper have gone a different way this season - which is why it is this desperate for wins in the first place.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Phillies since he was eight years old.
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