ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Last night, Charlie Manuel was focused on the short-term. Not on the shoulder injury suffered by Antonio Bastardo, further throwing the pitching staff into flux, but on the six runs the young lefty allowed in the first two innings. Not on the six games remaining on this road trip, but on another in a long line of mental miscues that cost the team at least one run.
There wasn't a whole lot of cheer in the visiting manager's office last night after the Phillies fell to the Rays, 10-4, at Tropicana Field, and with the Phillies losing for the 10th time in 12 games, it was easy to see why.
"When you play like that right there, there is a good chance you are going to lose some more," Manuel said. "I don't think anyone there in our clubhouse thinks that is very good playing."
The problem, in Manuel's view, wasn't an offense that managed no runs in the final eight innings, 4 1/3 of which came against a righthander with the second-highest ERA among qualifying starters in the majors.
It was the mental lapse in the sixth inning, when Pedro Feliz was doubled off at first base on a would-be sacrifice fly, preventing an easy run from scoring from third that would have cut a two-run deficit in half.
"It was an error," Feliz said after the game. "Mental mistake."
It was the pitching performances throughout the game - six runs allowed by Bastardo before he exited, three by Chad Durbin in two innings of work, and one by Jack Taschner in the seventh. But most of all, it was that the Phillies of the past 2 weeks have not looked like the Phillies of the 2 weeks that preceded them, and certainly not like the Phillies who stormed through the autumn of 2008 en route to their first World Series victory in 28 years.
One thing is clear: Mount Saint Manuel is emitting some vapors.
"It's building up," said Manuel, whose team is now 37-33 with a half-game lead atop the NL East. "One of these days, the dam bursts, and we'll get it all [out]."
It is clear that many of his players share his frustration. On two separate occasions last night, the normally reserved Chase Utley got into a heated discussion with an umpire. The first came with one out in the sixth inning, when home-plate umpire Eric Cederstrom called a borderline 3-2 pitch from Durbin a ball, resulting in a Pat Burrell walk that put runners at first and third. The call helped lead to a three-run inning that gave the Rays a 9-4 lead.
One inning later, umpires went to instant replay to review a ground-rule double, while the Phillies were under the impression that the replay system was only to be used for home runs (umpires were entitled to review the play because it was a "boundary call"). Utley and second-base umpire Brian O'Nora talked at length in the infield during the sequence of events.
Manuel expressed frustration with the process, citing a game last weekend in which umpires refused to review a Greg Dobbs drive that would have resulted in a game-winning home run against the Red Sox, but was instead ruled foul.
"I know this," said Manuel, "I know Dobbs hit a foul ball/fair ball, and the game's over, and they didn't review that. So, whatever. It doesn't matter."
About the Feliz play, Manuel said his third baseman did not know how many outs there were. It came one night after shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who did not play last night, made an ill-advised decision to flip to second instead of making a throw to first, which extended the Rays' eighth inning and led to them scoring five runs.
"What can you say?" Manuel said.
For a half-inning, the Phillies seemed poised to take a much-needed series victory into the start of tonight's series at Toronto, which just last week swept them at Citizens Bank Park. They jumped on Rays righthander Andy Sonnanstine early, getting a two-run double from Ryan Howard en route to a four-run first.
But the Rays scored three in the first and three in the second off of Bastardo to regain control.
"The momentum of the game shifted," Manuel said. "That's how it goes sometimes. And you can say, well you didn't score after that, but some of the reasons you don't score after that is because the momentum shifts. And if you keep having to score every night and coming from behind and things like that, after awhile, pretty soon, it takes its toll. That's exactly what happened."
By the fourth inning, Bastardo's fastball was sitting in the high 80s, well below his normal velocity. He left the game with a shoulder strain with two outs in the fourth.
Bastardo said he had felt tightness in the shoulder Wednesday, but that it got progressively worse during the game. He said team trainer Scott Sheridan would likely deliver a prognosis today. Manuel said he did not have details on the injury.
The Phillies could go without a fifth starter until July 4, thanks to Monday's off-day. Whether they will need to make alternate plans remains to be seen.
"It's a tightness," Bastardo said through a translator. "I can't throw the ball the way I want to. I'm pushing the ball."
Now, the Phillies head to Toronto to regroup.