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Note to Phillies: This is painful to watch, and you really need to get things going

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The Atlanta Braves blew a nine-run lead to the Colorado Rockies.

The Reds ALMOST blew a similar lead to the Giants, but won.

If you have a "glass is half full" mentality, you probably think that the Phillies should be in first place by now and have the Braves right where they want them.

If you have a "glass is half empty" mentality, you are probably amazed that the Phillies aren't 14 games out of first place.

The results of the last ten games has seen the Phillies and Braves yield the identical results in the won-loss column. Every time the Phillies win, so do the Braves, and when the Braves lose, so do the Phillies. Something's got to give (isn't that a movie?).

The Phillies' offense has scored more than two runs just once in its their last seven games. They have scored just six rThe Phillies lost the game and Ryan Howard on Tuesday night. Photo:http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/ uns in 34 innings against the Houston Astros. It is clear that Chase Utley and Ryan Howard should have stayed longer in their rehab assignments. I never thought I'd be saying this when the year began, but never in my life have I wanted to see Brad Lidge on the mound more than I do right now.

Not only has their hitting been anemic, but you can watch better baserunning in the Little League World Series. The baserunning gaffes of Jayson Werth and Ben Fransisco this series against the Astros are pure mental lapses and are downright inexcusable when you are gunning for your fourth consecutive NL East title. These are the types of bonehead plays the Phillies made in 2005-2006, when they were "not quite ready for prime time" and needed to experience some growing pains before learning how to win. There are quite a few new players on this team, but Werth and Fransisco are veterans. It's not like a rookie such as Domonic Brown was caught sleeping.

Overall, this team is playing uninspired baseball and at times just seem uninterested. I know that's not the case. Ryan Howard's actions on Tuesday night clearly demonstrates that. But what we are watching is clearly not the brand of baseball Charlie Manuel has established during his tenure as Phillies manager. And what now seems to be a year long hitting funk is just furthermore proof that neither Milt Thompson OR Greg Gross (who ironically was fired as the Phillies hitting coach six years ago) can make this team swing the bats.

I received my share angry mail from disgruntled Astros fans after I called them Triple A team yesterday. I would be offended myself if someone referred to my team as that. As a Phillies fan, we've been there more than Astros fans have over the last twenty-plus years. I'm sorry, but when you are back to back National League Champions like the Phillies currently are, you hold yourself to high standards- which means beating up on teams like the Astros when it counts. In 1989, the Phillies were beyond horrible. I wanted them to win, but when the powerhouses (Mets, Giants, etc.) came into town, even I was old enough to know not to expect much from the Fightins during those days.

Even worse, this weekend the Phillies are heading out to play the Padres, whose 3.24 ERA is the best in all of baseball. Doesn't exactly scream "slump buster" if you catch my drift.

This team better get it together and fast. The Rockies are now four and a half games out of the Wild Card and the Dodgers aren't that far behind.

In a few days, we could really see what this Phillies team is made of. We can only hope things don't get even uglier.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

Photo: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/