MIAMI - Fifteen years ago Monday, the Phillies lost for the 58th time in 81 games. Curt Schilling screamed at Mike Lieberthal, first-year manager Terry Francona lashed into his appalling team, and Ricky Bottalico threw a bad pitch.
"I'm just stupid," Bottalico said that night.
These Phillies are not nearly as dreadful as the 1997 edition, yet it's been 15 years since Philadelphia has seen a worse first half of baseball than this. There was no yelling or screaming Sunday after a 5-2 loss to Miami completed a Marlins sweep and dropped the Phillies to 36-45 and 11 games out of first place.
They have lost five straight. They are nine games under .500 for the first time since July 25, 2006. They are on pace for 90 losses one season after 102 wins.
"I've talked enough to our guys," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I don't know how much more I can say."
His players personified confidence Sunday, for whatever it's worth.
"Everything," Carlos Ruiz said, "is going to change at one point."
"I don't think anybody is hanging their head," Jonathan Papelbon said. "I think everyone in here is taking it as a challenge."
"It's up to us," Roy Halladay said. "It really is. We can tuck our tails or we can fight. There's a chance we fight and still come up short, but I'd rather do it that way than admit defeat halfway through the year."
Yes, the second half will be played. Who actually wears Phillies uniforms in those games remains to be seen.
Manuel used his 38th different player in 81 games when Jason Pridie pinch-hit in the seventh inning. He didn't have a job in baseball two weeks ago. The Phillies used 42 players in all of 2011.
If there is to be a Phillies fire sale, and all indications are that Ruben Amaro Jr. is headed in that direction, the names on this roster could become more obscure by the week. The general manager has traded two players from the opening-day roster in two days.
More moves could be afoot if the losses mount. The players in the clubhouse know it. So does the manager.
"That's out of my control," Manuel said. "We have to keep going."
They did in the first inning Sunday when Juan Pierre provided the extent of a team's life for one day. Fresh off lashing a triple, Pierre dashed from third base toward home on a grounder. He slid under Marlins catcher John Buck's tag and his helmet bounced through home-plate umpire Dana DeMuth's legs. DeMuth signaled safe. Pierre pumped his fist.
Hours later, the gregarious outfielder was solemn.
"There's nothing you can take away from this series," Pierre said. "You just forget about it."
The Phillies scored once more only when Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco threw two balls to the backstop in the span of four sixth-inning pitches. Nolasco toted a 5.90 June ERA into July, and he limited the Phillies to two runs in seven innings.
Joe Blanton was effective, but he served up a home run for the 10th consecutive start, and it proved costly. Giancarlo Stanton lasered a 2-1 fastball to the opposite field for a round-tripper in the third inning that put Miami ahead, 3-1.
"It just got up," Blanton said. "If it's down, he hits a ground ball. He's a big, strong guy. He possibly has the most power in the league. If you leave a pitch up, there's a good chance he's going to hit it a long way.
"I'm coming right at him. I got it 50 percent right. I got it on the corner. If I get it down, I get him out. I just happened to leave it up a little bit."
Blanton's 19 home runs allowed lead the National League. As Stanton rounded the bases, the psychedelic home-run sculpture at Marlins Park ignited, and this was another nightmare for the Phillies.
"We just don't do enough," Manuel said. "I talk about it every day."