Phillies One Game Away From Elimination
The Phillies seem determined to lose this NLCS series; they did everything they could think of to hand it over the Giants tonight to go down 3 games to 1. Lose tomorrow and they will go home. There are many ways to describe the Phillies effort this series, such as pathetic, disgusting or downright ugly. It appears they already have their bags packed.
Not to take anything away from the Giants who are a great team with an amazing pitching staff. But the effort they have gotten from Phillies so far in no way properly emulates the talent on this team. The offense has been minimal to non-existent and the pitching has varied from great (Roy Oswalt, Game 2) to unexpectedly lackluster (Roy Halladay, Game 1) to horrible (Joe Blanton plus Chad Durbin, Game 4).
Tonight, Blanton was not good. He allowed 3 runs on 5 hits and a walk in only 4 2/3 innings. All 3 runs were scored with two outs in the inning and one of those came after two wild pitches in the first inning. Worse than that, after the offense squeezed out 4 tough runs in the 5th for him, Blanton could not manage a shut-down inning and gave a run right back.
The 4 runs they managed came after a string of singles and a double by Placido Polanco. A hit batter loaded the bases but Jimmy Rollins swung at ball 4 to end the inning instead of adding on runs. The addition of Ben Francisco in place of Raul Ibanez was an improvement as Francisco actually hit the ball a few times. But in the end, not much else went right for the Phillies.
Trying to hand the game over on a silver platter, Chad Durbin and Carlos Ruiz combined to take a 4-3 Phillies lead in the 6th inning and turn it into a 4-5 deficit. Durbin led the inning off by walking Pat Burrell. Then, apparently leaving his brain back in Philadelphia, Ruiz called for inside fastballs to Cody Ross who has gobbled those same pitches up this series to the tune of 3 homers and 4 RBI. Well, he did it again with a double and eventually scored along with Burrell.
I hate to criticize Ruiz, who has been fabulous all year, but this was the 5th time he made the same mistake to Ross this series. FIVE times! WHEN will it end? And that was not the only mistake; Ruiz called for a high fastball to Pablo Sandoval that same inning, which led to a 2-RBI double. I was screaming at the TV, “Keep the ball down!” because I knew he wanted a high fastball. If I know this, WHY doesn’t Ruiz?? Sandoval took a ridiculous swing at a low curve ball earlier in the at-bat and missed badly. Plus, if you have EVER seen Sandoval hit, you know he likes them high. Hello??? Am I some sort of baseball genius or was this just a bonehead move by the pitcher and catcher? Hint: Bonehead move!!
I do not think “frustration” begins to cover the range of emotions I am experiencing right now, along with thousands of other Phillies fans. As just another example of this, why in that same 5th inning we discussed earlier did the 3rd base coach send Ruiz home from 2nd on a ball hit to very shallow center?
He was nailed at the plate by a mile. And why on that same play is Shane Victorino, who hit the ball, still standing on first base instead of advancing to 2nd during the play at home? Did he have a brain freeze? Whatever the issue, it was about to induce a brain aneurism as my head felt like it might explode.
In the 8th inning, doubles from Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth tied the game up. But is it just me, or did this not just seem to delay the inevitable? So going into the 9th inning and running out of pitchers that manager Charlie Manuel felt he could trust, he brought in starter Roy Oswalt on TWO days rest. I kid you not. He still had Kyle Kendrick, Brad Lidge and JC Romero in the pen, but went with Oswalt.
That turned out to be a huge disaster. Oswalt gave up two singles and a sac fly that scored the winning run for the Giants. Not Oswalt’s fault by any means; what did they expect from him on two days rest and off his usual routine?
Game 5 tomorrow – Roy Halladay will attempt to keep the series alive. Is it possible for the Phillies to win the next 3 games? Anything is possible I suppose.
Durbin photo by Jenn Zambri Photography