Deja vu: Phils offense struggles late in season again; Cause for concern?

Nationals Danny Espinosa scored on an RBI single in the 6th. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

We’ve seen this far too many times.

It happened in 2007, 2009 and 2010. The only year it hasn’t happened was 2008 and we all know how that turned out. Once again, the Phillies offense is sputtering at the season’s close and it is starting to look scary again.

It happened again today as the Phils were swept in the double header, this time being shut out 3-o to the Washington Nationals of all teams.

Cliff Lee wasn’t at his best but he still pitched well enough for the win. He allowed three runs, two earned, on 11 hits and a walk while striking out nine. It’s just that it is hard to get runs when your offense manages only two hits.

It marked the fourth straight loss for the Phillies, who haven’t won since clinching the division on Friday. But does it really cause for concern?

The Phillies have averaged 2.57 runs (36 total) in the last 14 games. They are 6-8 in that span, losing their last four.

Remember, the Phillies aren’t playing for anything, nor are they fielding full line ups for nine innings. They also aren’t exhausting their starting pitching and aren’t overusing relievers Antonio Bastardo and Ryan Madson.

But the fact that bench players like John Mayberry, Ben Francisco, Ross Gload, John Bowker, Brian Schneider, Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez aren’t winning games for the Phillies has become frustrating. Also the cooling down of Shane Victorino and the inconsistency of Raul Ibanez is turning into a problem.

Remember, last year the Phillies sputtered in the NLDS despite outpitching the Reds before being completely outhit by a mediocre Giants offense that went on to win the World Series. Fans, especially the Phillies themselves, do not want to see that happen again.

I’m treating this like a bad week. This team is having the best season in franchise history. That is evidence alone that they will get the job done once meaningful baseball resumes October 1.

WP: Detwiler (3-5). LP: Lee (16-8). S: Storen (40).

PENCE HURT — Hunter Pence was hurt in the first game of the double header. Turns out he has patellar tendinitis and will have a precautionary MRI tomorrow.


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