The Doctor was under the weather last night and so, too, were most of the interns and residents as the Phillies dropped a winnable game to San Francisco in the opener of the NLCS.
From the first inning it was clear Roy Halladay did not have his good stuff. He was constantly struggling with command and was up in the zone. Several times, Carlos Ruiz set up low and away only to reach over the heart of the plate or inside to catch a pitch. The omens were there from the get-go.
Still, the Phils might have won had they capitalized on early opportunities against an equally unimpressive Tim Lincecum. (So much for their hyped duel.) Ryan Howard led off the second inning with a double and was stranded there. Numerous other times with runners in scoring position the Phils failed to capitalize save for Jason Werth's two run homer.Ruiz got things rolling earlier with a solo shot to tie the game after Cody Ross gave SF an early lead with the first of his two home runs off Halladay. Cody Ross always gives the Phils phits!
The Phillies haven't hit during the entire playoffs and even prior to that. A team cannot collect six hits a night and win consistently. Jimmy Rollins is one of the poster boys for the futility. His very public decline continued as he failed to deliver with men on base. Worse, where Rollins was always ready to swing in the past, he appears tentative and confused now. If I were the manager, I wouldn't hesitate to put Wilson Valdez in for game two.
The game was officially lost in the sixth inning when Pat Burrell lifted a two out "double" to the wall in left center field. Raul Ibanez ran back and leaped awkwardly as the ball glanced off his glove. Two runs would score that inning, cementing the victory for the visitors.
Ibanez isn't a good fielder. We knew that. What galls me is the realization the Phillies have never had a good left-fielder in the 31 years I've lived here and watched them. A succession of lumbering, awkward, stoned-glove players have patrolled that territory these three decades. Last night, for the umpteenth time, a lack of ability with the glove cost the Phils a victory. The difference this time, of course, was the stage on which the foul was committed.