PHILADELPHIA -After the final game of their recent 10-game home stand that ends with today's matinee, the Phillies' next step won't have the same comforting feeling as the past two weeks.
Beginning tomorrow, the Phils will head to the West Coast to begin a seven-game trip that should be challenging on several fronts. They'll face the Western Division leading San Diego Padres arguably baseball's best-kept secret with the best overall record along with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies.
The challenge will come in the fact that they are 40-24 at Citizens Bank Park this season and 19-6 in their last 25 games in South Philly. It's also a place where they had won nine consecutive series.
Consequently, they are 28-31 on the road this season, yet they have won six of their last seven contests away from Citizens Bank Park. They are also in the process of dealing with a streak of 24 games in 23 days with their next scheduled day off on Sept. 9.
"It's going to be an interesting weekend," said outfielder Jason Werth, who hit a solo homer (17th) in last night's game. "We'll be facing one of the best (pitching) staffs around in San Diego and the Dodger and Rockies always give us a good run.
"We've been at home for awhile, but now we have to shift gears. We also have to start hitting."
Their lives can get even more interesting considering their recent offensive woes as well as some interesting quirks during their current home stand in which they need a .victory today to even that mark at 5-5.
The Fightins have been limited to two runs or fewer in six of their last seven games and have hit just above .200 as a team during the span. Consequently, Phillies' pitching has posted an ERA just under 3.00 in their last seven games and Phillies' starters have allowed two runs or fewer in six of those seven games.
Wait, don't forget. August is winding down and the Phils are again in the midst of a pennant race, this time with the front-running Atlanta Braves (leading by 2 /12 games) and also locked in a dogfight with both the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals for the NL Wildcard.
When you add it all up, baseball is never boring in Philadelphia, especially with the recent rash of questionable umpiring on their home stand.
"It's been nice being home, but we know we have to get on the road and win," said shortstop Jimmy Rollins. "We have a rough road trip coming up and those teams are playing well.
"We just have to focus on the things we do well and bear down these games. We don't really have a lot of room for errors. This is our time now to bear down and get serious. We know what we have done and what we can do."
Manager Charlie Manuel knows the feeling. He believes his club can put aside their recent offensive woes with a full line up healthy and the benefit of some added punch on the bench heading into the regular season's final month.
Still, there is a sense of frustration that has been in the air the past week.
"We have come up short in too many games lately," said Manuel. "We also have a big road trip ahead for us. We need to get our bats back to where they were. Our pitching has been strong, but we need to score more than one or two runs, especially on the road."