The Phillies are 3 1/2 games behind the New York Mets in the National League East and four games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL wild-card race with just 16 games to play.
They've been in this spot before.
I mean, they were 6 1/2 games behind the Mets with 16 to play last year and won, right?
But that doesn't mean it is easy. In fact, the Phillies are slowly moving into long shot territory. Baseball Prospectus figures the Phillies have just a 16.5 percent chance to make the playoffs at this point, while the Mets have a 92 percent chance and the Brewers have an 80.7 percent chance. If the Mets go 9-8 the rest of the way, the Phillies would have to finish 12-4 just to tie them. If the Brewers, who are wound about as tight as a drum right now, go 8-8 the rest of the way, the Phillies again would have to finish 12-4 just to tie them.
It would be a lot to ask the Mets to blow two big leads two years in a row.
It wouldn't be surprising to see the Brewers blow it. They have a history of playing poorly in the second half under Ned Yost.
But there is no question yesterday's 7-3 loss to the Marlins put the Phillies a little deeper in the hole.
"Last year, we were hot," Charlie Manuel said. "We could score runs, and it seemed like we had enough pitching to get through. We were playing good. . . . We really got after it. Our team this year, when you're struggling to pitch and score runs, that's tough. But at the same time, I've seen us bounce back. We always have."
It must start tonight. The Phillies must take at least 3 of 4 from the Brewers this weekend. A split would mean the Phillies would have to go 10-2 the rest of the way to tie the Brewers, if they went just 6-6. Win the first two at Citizens Bank Park, and I'd bet the panic spreads in the Brewers clubhouse and they start worrying about being swept. They don't have CC Sabathia available to bail them out this weekend, either.
Manuel said the team hasn't had that energy or life recently. Phil Sheridan has a few theories why that is happening.
In the Phillies Notebook: the Phillies need a starter for Sunday, and I think it could be Brett Myers on short rest. Hey, why not? The Phillies are in a hole. Might as well roll the dice. Also, Carlos Carrasco is in Venezuela (should he be here?) and Tom Gordon is throwing again.