Phillies face defining stretch

The Phillies will get an indication whether they are buyers or sellers after the next 35-games, of which 32 will be played against teams with winning records.

This stretch ends July 24, a week before the trade deadline.

Here is what the Phillies will face in this stretch.

At Atlanta (3 games); at St. Louis (4); vs. Miami (4); vs. Atlanta (4); at Miami (3); at Pittsburgh (3); at Milwaukee (4); vs. Washington (3); at Atlanta (3); vs. San Francisco (4).

Pittsburgh is 34-35 after losing Sunday to Miami.

Atlanta was 35-32 before tonight’s game with the Los Angeles Trouts.

Here are the rest of the records:
St. Louis (37-32); Miami (35-32); Milwaukee (41-29); Washington (35-33); (San Francisco (43-27).

Only Milwaukee and San Francisco are as many as 10 games over .500, which shows that many of the winning teams have had their share of inconsistency.

Still, few rival the inconsistent stretches of the Phillies, who are now 29-38 after Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Manager Ryne Sandberg stated the obvious – that the Phillies will have to pick things up offensively to be competitive.

On Sunday the Phillies were shut out for the ninth time this season.

Sandberg does know what the Phillies are up against in these next 35 games.

“We’ll be facing some good pitching and we have to be able to not only pitch with them - which I’d say overall we’ve been pretty good with, mainly the bullpen – but also facing some guys scoring runs during the stretch,” Sandberg said.

The Phillies bullpen has turned things around, but outside of Cole Hamels, is there a starter that anybody feels comfortable with on a consistent basis?

So Sandberg is right, the Phillies must score runs.

The Phillies are 1-31 when they trail after seven innings, but 18-11 when they score first, so getting off to good starts is an obvious key.

Sandberg has said that he feels this team can turn things around. We will find out in a little over a month if the Phillies can justify their manager’s faith in them.