Phillies Season Over Too Soon
The Phillies lost Game 6 of the NLCS to the Giants last night, prematurely ending their season. The Giants will go on to face the Texas Rangers in the World Series while the Phils sit at home and watch. Having made it to the World Series two straight years, this loss was tough to take.
The game ended, perhaps fittingly, on a Ryan Howard strike out with 2 men on base. Howard struck out 12 times in 22 at-bats and had zero RBI the entire series. This performance was a microcosm of entire Phillies playoff run where the big producers did very little. Chase Utley hit .182 with only 1 RBI; Shane Victorino batted .208 with only 2 RBI; Carlos Ruiz hit .167 with only 1 RBI…you get the picture.
In last night’s game, the Phils had plenty of chances to turn things around and force a Game 7; they simply did not do it. Roy Oswalt pitched a great game while Jonathan Sanchez did not.
The Phillies took advantage of Sanchez early in the 1st inning; after a walk and a wild pitch, Utley doubled, Howard singled and Jayson Werth hit a sac fly. Two runs scored and it looked like the Phils were in control.
It started out similar in the bottom of the 3rd inning too; Sanchez walked Placido Polanco and then hit Utley in the upper back. As Utley ran to first, the ball bounced to him; he caught it and underhanded it to Sanchez who then started spewing cuss words at Utley. If you read his lips, Utley said, “What? What’s bulls*it?” And then the benches cleared…
Here are some photos I took and I have marked where a few interesting things are going on in the group. You can see Carlos Ruiz getting pretty angry; Utley running in while Polanco tries to restrain a Giants player; Pat Burrell right in the middle of the argument having words with his old friends; JC Romero trying to hold back Sanchez:
Utley and Sanchez have a history; Sanchez threw at his head on 7/30/09, to which Utley said nothing. Later, Utley called time out during his at-bat and Sanchez got mad about when he called it. Utley then took him deep for a homer to right. Apparently, Sanchez has issues with Utley.
Anyway, after the near-brawl on the field, Sanchez was pulled; the Phillies had two free base runners with NO outs and still failed to score. That may have been the moment that changed the entire season for the Phillies. Because in the top of the inning, everything had gone wrong for the Phils defensively. Getting a run after that may have made the difference.
The 3rd started with a hit by the pitcher Sanchez which Utley should have fielded and did not. A single and a sac bunt were followed by this missed fly ball to Victorino:
On the very same play, Victorino threw home and Ruiz made the tag to save a run:
The Phils could have escaped with just the one run scored but Polanco got a ground ball and was charged with a throwing error as Howard did not make the catch at first. Frankly, it looked like a ball he should have caught. Another run scored on the error to tie the game 2-2.
It was a virtual stalemate after that for a while. The Phillies had chances to score, like in the 5th when Howard doubled but the 3rd base coach held Jimmy Rollins at third. With two outs and little offense working, he should have been sent home.
In the 6th, Raul Ibanez doubled and Ruiz moved him to third with a bunt. But pinch hitter Ben Francisco went down on strikes instead of hitting a much needed sac fly. No scoring…again. In all, the Phillies left 11 men on base and went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position. It was a lackluster effort, just like most of this series was for the Phillies.
Werth did make a heroic catch in foul territory, which was one of the few highlights:
But in the 8th, forced to pitch his 2nd inning of the night, Ryan Madson gave up a solo homer to Juan Uribe which broke the tie. The Phillies could not manage a rally, down by only one run and with many base runners. They lost 3-2 and sent the Giants to the World Series.
I would like to congratulate the Giants and their fans for the victory. They are a great team who fought hard and earned it. The Phillies did not play like the team we all know and that is the most disappointing part. But to have made it this far is still an accomplishment as 26 other teams did not.
In the coming days, I will be analyzing the aftermath and looking ahead to what next season might bring. For today, I will quietly mourn the end of the 2010 Phillies season and try to look on the bright side later.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game. It includes game shots, pre-game, Darren Daulton tossing the 1st pitch, Kane Kalas singing God Bless America and more…
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography