I cannot speak for the good people of Mudville, but when it comes to anxiety and despair, they have nothing on us.
The Phillies squandered another lead and, more important, another opportunity to stay ahead of Los Angeles in the Wild Card race as they lost last night to the Nationals 4-3. Coupled with the Dodgers win in Denver, the Phils are now a full game back. The entire affair was a team effort with virtually no one immune to second-guessing or worse except Chris Coste.
As a group the Phillies are no longer doing the little or big things that propelled them into the chase in the first place. Chief among their failings is the mounting number of wasted scoring opportunities, a feature of much of their play throughout the spring and summer.
In this morning’s Inquirer Brett Myers is quoted assuming responsibility for the loss and writer Todd Zolecki just as quickly absolved him:
"I've got one thing to say," Myers said. "I cost us the game."
Hardly. The offense did. Maybe the umpire's call did.
Not exactly, Todd.
The Phillies staked Myers to a two-run lead in the first inning on the road with their putative ace on the mound and he came right back in the bottom of the frame and handed the Nationals one of those runs. He then waited two more innings before walking two runners and allowing a double to finally surrender the lead for good. I don’t care how his pitching line reads in the end, his early performance was hardly stepping up. Think ace on some other staff and just imagine anyone else handling the situation as Myers did.
Myers wasn’t helped in that third inning by some questionable fielding on the part of Pat Burrell, who might have been able to make the play on the ball but didn’t, but at the outset he simply didn’t do his job. Through three innings he gave up a stolen base (he never even appeared to look at the runner), two walks and three hits and Washington capitalized on every one of them.
Meanwhile, the Phillies were just getting started squandering scoring opportunities of their own against a pitcher tied for the most losses in the league this season and one who never met a pitch down Broadway he wasn’t willing and able to throw.
Lots of Phillies failed to deliver, most of all our good friend Burrell, who had himself quite a night again, striking out twice with runners in scoring position. Burrell has become the four-tool player management envisioned when they made him the first pick in the draft lo those many years ago…only in reverse. He cannot run at all, hit when it counts, field in general or throw accurately any longer. He deserves some sort of mercy treatment at this stage. If not, we do!!
The phone lines, chat rooms, in boxes and newspapers will be filled with fingers pointed regarding the apparent blown call on the home run that wasn’t by Chase Utley, but no one protested when it happened and that’s about all you can say. His may have been the biggest missed opportunity to win last night, but it wasn’t the only one.