Thursday, October 21, 2010

Panic

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?

3 Comments:

Blogger Matty said...

Hi Tom,

I have to back up a few games and say something that I haven't heard anyone talking about. In the 6th inning of game one, Halladay strikes Burrell out but doesn't get the call from the home plate umpire, forcing Halladay to throw another pitch. Instead of the inning being over, the Giants go on to score two runs that inning, and the Phils lose by a run. That pitch, that single call by the ump impacted not only the outcome of that game, but the complexion of the entire series. Had the ump called the pitch correctly, the Phils go into San Francisco up 2-0. Even if you give them the next two games, the series is now tied at 2-2 instead of 3-1. That single call on a pitch changed the entire series. And I don't hear anyone talking about it. Sure, you can't blame umps for the lack of offense, but THAT PITCH was the deciding factor in the series.

Now, onto game 4. Blanton has a history of problems in the first inning. He can't seem to get out of the 1st without allowing runs. An in typical fashion, he allows a single run there, and they lost by a run.

After the Phils score 4 for him in the top of the 5th, he comes out and promptly walks the leadoff batter. Absolutely INEXCUSABLE. He has a track record of when the team gets him the lead, he gives it right back. That batter eventually scored, and they lost by a run.

Durbin walks a leadoff batter, and that guy eventually scores, and they lose by a run.

Ruiz is thrown out at home with no outs, and they lose by a run.

Victorino can't get the ball out of his glove and still almost throws a runner out at the plate. Run scores, and they lose by a run.

Rollins strikes out with the bases loaded and one out, and they lose by a run.

Werth is standing on 2nd base with no outs after a clutch double. At the end of the inning, he's still standing there. Rollins pops up, and then get this, Francisco and Ruiz strike out on 6 consecutive sliders. Absolutely awful. And they lose by a run.

Lastly, and I've been saying this all year long. Phillies pitchers cannot get 3 straight outs in the 9th inning. Starters and relievers alike, and regardless of the game situation. They rarely ever just retire the first three batters in any 9th inning. They always allow base runners in the 9th. It doesn't matter if it's a blowout with the Phils winning, a blowout with the Phils losing, a close game winning, a close game losing, tie score. It doesn't matter. Every Phillies pitcher allows base runners in the 9th. Why is that? Game 4 was no different, and they lost by a run.

Take any one moment and change it. Any single moment in the game where they score a run or prevent a run, and they win game 4.

And as an aside comment, at what point will Phillies pitchers realize that Cody Ross likes the ball down and in? How many hits on a pitch down and in, in key situations from him is it going to take before it sinks in?

I enjoy your writing, and it's nice to be able to respond and interact.

Matty

12:53 PM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

Basically, Matty, I turned the Comments back on for you. Someone as loyal and committed as you deserves a chance to have his say, too. Welcome back!

3:17 PM  
Blogger Matty said...

Thanks Tom. I've been reading you a long time.

7:49 PM  

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