A few shutouts, and the very sky above teeters.

Already, trade talk concerning key principles has begun.

Already, the team has been declared flawed beyond repair and relevance.

A game out of second place behind their hosts tonight in Washington, just a game below .500, and the Phillies cannot shake the aura of pending failure.

Why is this?

Carlos Ruiz and Roy Halladay, a fearsome battery 2 years ago, might never play catch again. Setup man Mike Adams and second baseman Chase Utley have torso injuries that will almost certainly cost them their All Star candidacies.

But still ...

After 7 weeks, a game under .500, with Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard heating up as expected – trades and doom?

Unwarranted, certainly, but predictable.

The Phillies are not the worst offensive team in baseball but they have been shut out six times in their 47 games, as many as in all of last year's 81-81 disaster. They are two games worse than their first 47 games of 2008, when they won the World Series. They have won seven of their last 10 games, and have not lost any of their last five series.

But they have been shut out at an alarming rate; twice behind Cole Hamels, in whose starts they are 1-9, averaging 2.7 runs; five times they have scored one or zero runs.

Losses create malaise.

Shutouts cause panic:

"You'll get depressed and forget about what's the main object," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, after the Phillies fell, 10-0, to Cincinnati last week.

They beat the Reds in that series.

They beat the Marlins earlier this week, the only loss coming in Hamels' start.

Lose without scoring, and lose behind your No. 1 pitcher, and malaise turns into panic.

Even if it is unwarranted.