NEW YORK - It had been 223 days since the Phillies last stepped into Yankee Stadium, since Shane Victorino grounded out to second to set off a Yankees celebration and since Charlie Manuel met with a silent group of 25 players in the visitors' clubhouse.
"We didn't play our best baseball," Manuel told his players then. "We owe them one."
Leaning against the dugout railing before tonight's 8-3 loss to the Yankees, Manuel remembered the conversation. What stuck out, the manager said, was how quiet the team was, having experienced the ultimate failure for the first time in more than a year.
Problem is, 223 days later, Manuel can say the same thing about his current team - albeit in a midseason slump as opposed to losing the World Series.
"Exactly," Manuel said. "We are not playing good right now at all. We're inconsistent."
That can be said for every player on the 25-man roster, even Roy Halladay.
The Phillies' ace allowed six runs in six innings, including three home runs, tying a career high. Five of the eight hits the Yankees had off Halladay were for extra bases.
As Halladay was roughed up by the Yankees, a New York fan yelled, "This is the American League now, Roy!" Well, Halladay should know. He did, after all, spend 12 years with the Toronto Blue Jays, facing the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees with regularity.
But in 2010, Halladay's first year in the National League, he has made two starts against AL teams (Boston and New York). His ERA in those games (112/3 innings) is 9.26. His ERA against NL teams is 1.51.
Coming into tonight's game, Halladay had dominated the Yankees in the past with an 18-6 record and 2.84 ERA in 35 career starts. The Yankees jumped on him early.
His cutter was flat. He allowed a two-run triple to Brett Gardner on a cutter in the second. In the third, Nick Swisher hit a two-run home run on a 2-0 cutter. And in the fifth, Mark Teixeira hit a solo home run just over the 314-foot marker on the right-field wall off a 1-2 cutter.
When catcher Carlos Ruiz handed Halladay the ball Gardner had hit for a triple, Halladay yelled at home plate umpire Lance Barksdale for another ball and slung the old one at the ump. It was as visibly upset as Halladay as been on the mound in 2010. Following Teixeira's home run that would have been a fly out in many parks, Halladay stared for a few seconds at the right-field corner without moving.
After 100 Halladay pitches, Manuel decided he had seen enough. But Halladay was far from being the only culprit.
Flashes of hope - like Raul Ibanez's eight-pitch at-bat against CC Sabathia that resulted in an RBI single in the fourth - were quickly erased. In the fifth, with the bases loaded and two outs, Ibanez rolled over on a 94-m.p.h. Sabathia fastball and grounded out to second.
Chase Utley had his second multi-hit game since May 23. But Carlos Ruiz is hitless in his last 22 at-bats and was pinch-hit for in the ninth. Victorino, the leadoff hitter, was 0 for 5 with two strikeouts and is hitless in his last 15 at-bats.
And now, following their ace, the Phillies will counter the Yankees' powerful bats with Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick in the next two days.