PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he recently had been considering a few things to say in a team meeting, if he decided to call one.
He saw enough in Thursday night's ugly 13-2 loss to the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park to finally have that meeting. He declined to offer specifics of his postgame message, but he hinted at its possible theme.
"There's a choice to be made," he said. "You either cave in or you fight your way back out. I don't want to see guys pouting or feeling sorry for themselves. If you want to prove you belong here you've got to fight."
The Phillies started the season 24-17, becoming one of baseball's biggest surprises. But they have fallen hard since. They are 6-20 since May 18, which is the worst record in baseball in that span.
The past eight games have been particularly rough. They are 1-7 and have been outscored, 61-25. On Thursday, they made four errors.
Nothing went right Thursday, but Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera added insult to injury with a considerable mental mistake in the eighth. The Blue Jays had a runner on first with one out when Michael Saunders flied out to center field. Herrera caught the ball and nonchalantly underhanded it into the right-field stands.
Herrera dropped his head and slowly started to jog to the Phillies' dugout, only to learn there were two outs. Herrera seemed to grin out of embarrassment and buried his face in his glove as Edwin Encarnacion advanced two bases. In the end, it didn't affect the game, but it was not what anybody wanted to see.
Herrera was not available to comment after the game.
"I didn't like what I saw today," Mackanin said. "We've gone from seven over to seven under within about a two-week span. I don't want what we did the first two months to get away from us. We're better than we've played. I don't want that to slip away. I want the players to regroup and start all over.
"I think it's just regroup as a team, as a collective unit, and just move forward," he said. "Go to bed, sleep it off, wake up tomorrow with a focus and an attitude that we're going to get better and get back on the right track."
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.