Charlie panicked. No two ways about it. In a game that wasn't an elimination game Charlie brought in Roy Oswalt, a starter who'd never relieved, and asked him to hold off the San Francisco Giants at home in the ninth inning of a seesaw game that was tied at 5 all. Oswalt failed and now it's pick one from back's to the wall, all over but the shouting, between a rock and a hard place, etc..
The Phils began the night by sending Joe Blanton to the mound. Blanton had not pitched in a live game in several weeks but was being asked to even the series at two games apiece. It was a tall order for the erratic Blanton, but he pitched decently into the sixth, when Charlie lifted him as the Giants were crawling back from a 4-2 deficit. Only a half inning before the Phils had taken their first lead since the games moved to Northern California. The lead proved short lived.
This has been a strange series. Billed as the match up between two excellent pitching staffs, the Phils were thought to have the edge offensively against a Giants roster cobbled together from waiver claims and judicious trades. The Giants have out hit the Phils in three of the four games thus far. Indeed, the Phils offense has largely disappeared save about two or three innings overall. Leading the disappearance is Chase Utley, who would be more visible if he'd simply entered the Witness Protection Program. Utley has had a terrible post-season of errors and less than sure-handed fielding to virtually no offensive production. He isn't alone. Raul Ibanez is throwing away at bats against the Giants. One writer said he was given a rest last night with Ben Francisco starting in his stead. Forget it! Ibanez was benched.
Jimmy Rollins may have delivered two nights ago, but for the most part he is popping the ball up and stranding base runners by the boatload. Shane Victorino is somewhere with Utley. Only Ryan Howard is hitting for average and only Jayson Werth driving in runs more than once a week. The games have been ugly from the Phils' standpoint with the offense failing to back up mostly decent starting pitching.
The series could end tonight and if it does, no amount of crying about the better team having lost will suffice...or be true. On paper the Phils are a better overall team, but they have never shown any offensive consistency this season.
BTW: Where was Brad Lidge last night?