Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Plenty of Blame To Spread Around

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.


Matt said...

[Utley's] may have been the biggest missed opportunity to win last night, but it wasn’t the only one.

Tom, yes, this is certainly true. Runners left in scoring position, blah. A Lidle-ian effort from the starting pitcher who claims to be an ace, blah. However, the Utley homerun that wasn't is the most glaring simply because it is the most easily fixable.

As I noted in my blog today, MLB needs to add instant replay for close calls like this for next season. Baseball is the only one of the four major sports -- if that moniker even applies anymore -- that doesn't use replay to enhance the calls made on the field of play. After watching Howard lose a homerun last weekend in Houston and another blown call last night . . . I just don't think I'll ever understand.

enrico said...

I'm with Matt for instant replay when it involves the foul line and maybe a potential HR like Howard's which was robbed in Houston a week or so ago.

You're right, Tom, this wasn't just Myers fault. It was a team effort.

Oisín/Wizlah said...

I understand the frustration, but 3 runs in 7 innings (and presumably only yanked because charlie needed a pinch hitter at that point) is not lidle-esque or even -ian. No its not shut em down greatness, but he minimised his mistakes, and didn't rely on the damn bullpen. we should win games if the opponents only score 3. If all the many pitchers we used this year could be relied on for 7 innings, 3 runs, and not blowing up after walking two and having them score, we would not now be screaming with frustration.

Y'know what i was thinking about on the day into work? Padilla's ERA is better than madson and floyd's combined (4.44 vs 6.58) in a similar number of innings (194 vs a combined 184.2). Addition by subtraction? My arse.

Tom Goodman said...

I am finished giving Myers a free pass. (Many would argue I never started.) He did not hold a mediocre team scoreless when it counted and he surrendered a lead on the road. Why do so many persist in saying, "yes but" with Myers? Three runs in seven innings may look good when people add up his stats for the season, but those three runs cost his team the game after they gave him a lead.

The last time I looked at the box score it said, Losing Pitcher: Myers.

Oisín/Wizlah said...

I'm not giving him a free pass, although I'll admit to having more hope in him than I did at the start of this season. I don't think he's the ace of the future or the present. I do want him in our rotation if he's sorted his head out.

Regardless of the opposition, if your pitcher only allows 3 runs in a game, you damn well win when you're up against mister 1 homerun a game. Three runs don't cost a game. 3-14 on runners in scoring position against a terrrible starting pitcher costs you a game.

Matt said...

Well put, Tom. I couldn't agree more. I'm wondering if I should even bother watching if it comes down to Sunday's game with Myers pitching in Florida. Who am I kidding? I know I'll be watching, hoping for the best abd expecting the worst.

gr said...

if you want to blame anyone for this, i think you have to go burrell and lieberthal. second straight game, same old tight, overly undisciplined at bats with RiSP. I mean, laying the blame on Myers, I know what you're saying but I don't see it. If the team can't win a game where they get 7 and 3 (IP/R) out of their starter, what do they think is going to happen, should they make the playioffs?

Tom Goodman said...

I'm sticking with my minority view. Myers had a two run lead and gave it up. Ask yourselves this about Myers the big-game pitcher: what was the more important start for him, Chicago last week or Washington last night? I am not trying to cut off the discussion, but I am clearly on notice I see him as less than the stopper or ace or whatever else you might call him. I'm already on record in the post today as saying there is plenty of blame to go around, but the PHils gave him a 2-0 lead and he gave it back.

RickSchuBlues said...

Brett "Putative Ace" Myers. I think I'll ask him to sign an 8 x 10 with that nickname. 5,000 to 1 he'd do it, thinking it was some great compliment!

You may be somewhat overstated in assigning blame to Myers, but true enough, he was terrible in that pivotal third inning. He looked like he was trying to strike everyone out and show everyone how dominant his new split-fingered pitch was, or how many different ways he could get the poor helpless hitters out. The next thing you knew his pitches were sailing way outside, splattering in the dirt, and hanging right in the happy zone. It was like watching an ego trip. "Hey world, I'm Roger Clemens. I pitched a CG in my last start, and I can do anything. Here, watch this splitter."

Outside of that inning, however, he did pitch very well. I am far more inclined to blame the loss on the final linescore of 3 runs on 13 hits. Two runs scored with one out in the first inning and the other scored with two outs in the ninth inning. That's far weaker than what Myers threw out there, on the whole.

Speaking of Zolecki, may I say in all objectivity and frankness that your writing and game summaries are ten times better than his...

Jerry said...

Think of another ace on another team, TG? Does the name Chris Carpenter ring a bell?

Tom Goodman said...

RSB: Thanks for compliment. As for Myers, it's unanimous. Everyone I respect thinks I am being too hard on him. I guess I have to take one more shot. Yes, those stranded runners hurt in the final analysis, but he was handed a 2-0 lead on the road and could not make it stick for three innings of the seven he pitched. Now, these guys may be pros and supposedly immune to letdowns, but it has to be deflating to get an early lead and see your big guy blow it. Then, you start pressing no matter what time of year it is, but especially now. Yes, they backed up Jamie Moyer's Sunday meltdown by coming back, but I maintain it is different to lose an early lead than to try and overcome an early deficit.

Jerry: Carpenter has been rocked two straight outings, but his track record over his career is much better than Myers', especially the last two seasons.