Phillies Must Show Comeback Ability

Michael Schwimer reacts after being pulled from the game in the eighth inning. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

Shane Victorino tried to put a positive spin in a truly negative stat. Charlie Manuel feels that the runs in the clutch will be coming.

Until that happens, the Phillies will have to live the fact that they are 0-20 in games when they trail after seven innings.

No. 20 came in Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Miami Marlins. The Phillies trailed 5-3 after seven innings, scored once in the eighth and had a runner in scoring position in the ninth. Still it wasn’t enough to erase the goose egg in the left hand side.

“We didn’t pull it out but we put ourselves in the situation where we could have tied the game or pulled ahead,” Victorino said. “Unfortunately it didn’t’ happen.”

Then he chose to put look at the positive side of things.  

Early in the season we wouldn’t get to that point to put ourselves in contention (late in games),” he said. “Right now, the last three weeks or so late in games, we been one swing away from tying or going ahead.”

Credit Victorino for sounding so positive, but deep down, the Phillies can’t feel they have earned a moral victory for staging late game almost-comebacks.

Manuel also feels the Phillies are ready to break out.

“It’s just a matter of time, getting a good swing and hitting the ball and it finds a place to land where nobody’s at,” Manuel said.

It sounds so easy.

Yet the more times the Phillies don’t stage a comeback after being down seven innings, the more one would think it would chip away at the team’s confidence.

By the way, when the Phillies are leading after seven innings, they are 24-3, so they know how to play the frontrunner role.

Still, to be a great team, or even one that wants to compete even for a wild card, the Phillies have to do better in late-game situations.

It appeared as if they had Marlins reliever Heath Bell on the ropes, but ended the game with pop ups by Brian Schneider and Jimmy Rollins.

So while many will be focused on the unusually high number of injuries, the Phillies have to show that they are capable of staging late-game comebacks.

Maybe if they do it once, it will lead to many more, but achieving it that first time has been elusive, which explains why the Phillies are just two games over .500 at this point.