Charlie Manuel had the Phillies' clubhouse cleared at about 4 p.m. yesterday at Citizens Bank Park.
He wanted to meet with his underachieving team, which is 13-21 since June 13. That's the third-worst record in baseball in that span. Only the San Diego Padres (9-26) and Washington Nationals (11-23) have been worse.
(Fortunatley for the Phillies, they play the Nationals and Padres 15 times in their remaining 59 games.)
Manuel's timing made sense. The Phillies had dropped out of first place in the National League East on Thursday, the first time they had been out of first place since May 31. Manuel also had benched Jimmy Rollins on Thursday for showing up late to Shea Stadium, which kind of became a big deal. Manuel wouldn't get into too many specifics about the meeting, but it sounds like this wasn't a hell raiser of a talk. He just wanted to get the team to refocus on things as it enters the final two months of the season.
But the Phillies lost last night to the Braves, 8-2, to drop them two games behind the Mets and into a second-place tie with the Florida Marlins.
Once again, the offense came up short.
"I feel like we're definitely going to score some runs," Manuel said. "It's very important that you stay upbeat and stay positive. I know who we've got, and I have a lot of faith in our guys. I know we're much better than how we've been playing, and we're going to do better."
But at what point does we're-going-to-do-better turn into this-is-what-they're-going-to-do? Manuel said he's not there yet. He still has faith, but while he waits the Phillies continue to waste good pitching performances and lose ground in the standings.
In the Phillies Notebook: more on yesterday's team meeting.