OK. Deep breaths. You out there on the ledge, don't make any sudden movements. I'm not coming out to get you — we're just going to talk.
I know things seem bad right now, but let's try to maintain some perspective.
We knew this was going to be tough road trip, and it's turned into one. The turnaround was a bit sudden, but not really a surprise. Every team has down periods when everyone stops hitting at once — you didn't think we were going to put first-inning runs up every night until the end of October, did you? You knew Jose Reyes wasn't going to hit .600 for the rest of the year, right? We spent much of June insanely hot; we're cold right now, but average it out and we're pretty warm.
Yes, I know the starting pitching's seemed a little suspect of late, with Pedro hurt, El Duque old, Soler young and Trachsel Trachsel. But we have time to fix that, whether it's from within (Pelfrey, MacLane, Heilman, Maine, Bannister) or without. And while El Duque wasn't particularly inspiring tonight, you can't argue with his line. Two earned over seven innings? I'll take that every time out, thanks very much.
Yes, we've been doing some dopey things out there in the field, whether it's pitch selection or getting picked off every freaking night. Willie warned all of us not so long ago about the dangers of getting complacent — well, this is what he was talking about. While Willie may make some questionable calls strategically, he's shown himself to be a terrific clubhouse manager. He's not going to let this get out of control. I wouldn't be surprised by a little clubhouse chat about bearing down and playing every game like it's No. 163 and the loser goes home.
Of course, it's a marathon and not a sprint, and marathon's are tough on the body. The team's beat up now, no way around it: Lo Duca's thumb, Pedro's hip, Cliff's ankle, Nady's wrist, Delgado's ribs, probably a host of other bumps and bruises we don't know about. That's part of the long season. We'll come through it and find it's happened to one of the clubs chasing us.
Oh, and let's remember that chase: The Marlins are 10.5 out, and while they're not to be dismissed (great story, in fact), they've got neither the horses nor the experience. The Phillies are hurtling downward in flames, the Braves just finished a 6-21 month and the Nationals have cratered. As my co-blogger likes to remind me, there's no extra credit for style points. If you finish first, nobody remembers how many games up you were on the last day or that your lead had been bigger earlier in the summer.
We're 10.5 up on July 1. If we could have looked in a crystal ball in March and seen that, we'd have redefined ecstatic and formed the world's biggest blue-and-orange conga line. And if we'd looked in the crystal ball and seen that we were all in the dumps despite that rather astonishing lead, we'd have concluded that we'd all gone insane.
10.5 games up on July 1. Deep breaths. Don't look down. Take my hand. Everything will be fine.