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Phillies better get slumping offense and Bastardo straightened out before September ends

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The other day, I posted my top five concerns for the Phillies going into the playoffs. Trust me, this is no self-fulfilling prophecy, but two of the five are happening right now.

Antonio Bastardo’s struggles continue Antonio Bastardo photo: Getty Images

The left-hander gave up the go-ahead home run to Yadier Molina in the eighth inning of Friday’s extra inning loss to the Cardinals. His fastball has lost a few miles per hour, and he looks like he’s aiming the ball, according to Marty Bystrom of PHLS 17’s Post Game Live.

Bastardo’s struggles  are reminiscent of Brad Lidge’s difficulties in 2009.  Come to think of it, Lidge should be chatting up Bastardo every chance he gets. As expected, Charlie Manuel has come to the defense of Bastardo, saying he’s not too worried about him.

The Phillies’ brass, however, has to be thinking otherwise. There is no other lefty in that bullpen. And with the playoffs coming, this could be a major issue if Bastardo doesn’t figure things out- and fast.

The offense is sleeping again

I really hoped I’d never see this again in 2011, but the Phillies’ “Phantom Offense” appears to have returned.

The Phillies have scored just 13 runs in their last seven games. To be fair, the lineup has not been at full strength, but when your top four hitters are 0 for 18, you aren’t going to win many games. And although his last two hits have been huge for the Phils, Ryan Howard is just 2 for his last 17. In his defense, Howard admitted Friday that his bursitis is lingering, and Manuel is trying to rest him as much as possible before the playoffs start.

97 wins or not, a shaky pen and no bats is not the best way to roll into the playoffs. To be blunt, the Phillies will get clobbered by another young and hungry team just like last year if they bring this type of play into October. The NL East will most likely be clinched this weekend. And they have less than two weeks to get things going.

Joe Vallee is a lifelong Phillies fan and former Phillies batboy. Joe has claimed to have seen about 98% of every Phillies game since the early 1980's.

Contact Joe at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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