After the Phillies lost for the 36th time in 61 games, Ryne Sandberg said, "This is considered early in the season." The Phillies manager has maintained the same demeanor from April until now despite presiding over the worst team in the National League.
Why is it early?
"Well, we still haven't had a hot streak," Sandberg said. "I believe there is a hot streak in there. If we could put together two or three weeks or a month with a hot streak, we can chip away and get back."
More failure this week could convince even Sandberg that it is time to cease hope for 2014.
The Phillies start a six-game homestand Tuesday with three games against San Diego followed by three vs. Chicago. They are two of the worst offenses in baseball.
The Padres are a special sort of inept. They are batting .218 as a team. Just two major-league teams since 1914 have finished a season with a lower batting average. The 1968 Yankees hit .214 and, somehow, won 83 games. The 1972 Texas Rangers were 54-100 with a .217 batting average.
San Diego's .277 on-base percentage would tie the lowest mark set by any team since 1914. The 1965 Mets, who went 50-112, finished with a .277 OBP.
They do have pitching, and will send Ian Kennedy (3.39 ERA), Tyson Ross (3.22) and Andrew Cashner (2.13) to the mound at Citizens Bank Park.
The Cubs have played better of late, although much of the damage came against the mediocre Mets. They are winners in six of their last nine games despite a team batting average of .233 and .672 OPS in 2014. The Phillies will miss Jeff Samardzjia.
Really, though, the opponent has not mattered for the Phillies. They have not secured a winning streak of more than three games since June 2-6, 2013. That was a five-game winning streak followed, of course, by a five-game losing streak.
That means the Phillies have played exactly 162 games since their last winning streak longer than three games.
Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.