Sunday, July 20, 2008

Get The Lead Out Or Don't Go!

Terrible base running killed the Phillies yesterday, that and another shaky outing by Kyle Kendrick.

It's OK that after the first three guys at the top of the order team foot speed tails off dramatically for the Phils, but that doesn't mean the slow, slower and slowest of the rest have to be so damn stupid!

Men on second and third with no outs and Ryan Howard, RYAN HOWARD for god's sakes, goes on contact. Brilliant move. He is nailed at the plate of course. Men now on first and third and one out. Pedro Feliz grounds to third. Pat Burrell, PAT BURRELL for god's sakes, goes on contact. Will it never end? Burrell scores but only because the Marlins' Jorge Cantu bobbled the ball. Replays show Burrell starting, hesitating and looking back and then going. Cantu then throws the ball away and the Phils again have men on second and third. Had Cantu fielded the ball cleanly Marlins' catcher John Baker could have done the Sunday crossword puzzle waiting for Burrell to arrive. Chris Coste then grounds the ball to Cantu and, you guessed it, Jayson Werth, who can actually move at a decent clip, is nailed at the plate. The inning eventually ends with the Phils scoring one run while having two men thrown out at home.

Afterwards, manager Charlie Manuel says Howard's out was a "mistake". How about the rest of those runners, Charlie? What is the mania for going on contact? It's almost Pavlovian with this manager and the results have been terrible over the last month or so with almost every one of those plays ending in an easy out at home plate. In fact, the plays are so rarely close most of them end with the runners avoiding a collision and embracing the catcher in a show of good fellowship and sportsmanship because the know they're dead in the water.

Despite themselves, the offense did rally a few times in this game, coming back from 3-1 and 4-3 deficits each time to knot the score, but Kyle Kendrick kept handing the lead right back to the Marlins.

Kendrick needs at least one more pitch if he's going to make it at this level and he'd better not wait much longer to try them out in a game situation because his sinker ain't sinking lately and his fastball is starting to do an excellent imitation of Adam Eaton's fastball, and we all know where that got Eaton let alone the team. The announcers keep saying Kendrick is working on a change. Well, Kyle, give it try in a game situation because those big leaguers in the other dugout are sitting on your fastball and the proof is in the pudding.

Even with all those blunders the Phils had a chance to tie the game in the ninth with the bases loaded and one out and Howard at the plate and Burrell, who'd already hit two home runs and thus had not been removed for a defensive replacement for a change, on deck. It was not to be as Howard fanned on three pitches and Burrell grounded into a force play to end the game.

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