Athletes like to say that “you win as a team and you lose as a team.” Rarely does that statement ever hold true. However, last night for the Phillies, that is exactly what happened. The Phillies missed opportunities at the plate, their pitching failed to compensate, and the manager certainly didn’t help things.
Let’s start with the hitting. While the Phils were finally able to put up the ever-elusive “crooked number” on the Giants in the fifth inning, the powerful team that we have grown accustomed to has not shown up in the playoffs. The most glaring, and horrifying, batting fail came in the top of the 8th. Jayson Werth doubled to score Ryan Howard, and was on second with no outs. How Jimmy Rollins doesn’t lay down a bunt there is beyond comprehension. Charlie Manuel’s loyalty, that is usually viewed as his strength, is becoming the Phillies’ weakest link. He had confidence that Rollins would do the right thing without giving him the bunt sign- get the runner over- instead, Rollins popped out lazily to third. Ben Francisco, even though he had been hitting the ball well, should have been replaced by Raul Ibanez, forcing Bruce Bochy to make a pitching decision. Instead, he struck out. Carlos Ruiz? He struck out too. Inning over.
There’s your ballgame. A runner on second with no outs in the 8th inning and he fails to so much as sniff third base.
But perhaps we aren’t there if the pitching had held up their end of the bargain.
Joe Blanton didn’t pitch horribly, but he wasn’t great either. He failed to make it through five innings (what happened to innings eater we all knew- a fat contract, that’s what happened). However, he still left the game with a 4-3 lead. A lead that Chad Durbing promptly blew in the sixth. When Durbin pitches, he is either really good, or really awful. His 91 MPH fastball looked oh-so-hittable, as evidenced by the double that 900 pound Pablo Sandoval hit above his neck. Lead gone, 5-4 Giants.
Even the fielding was suspect. Cody Ross (that bastard) doubled on a ball that could have been caught by Francisco in left, just prior to Sandoval’s at-bat,
In the 7th, Rollins booted a dead double play ball (there I got with the Wheels-isms again), forcing Ryan Madson (god bless the playoff version of Mad Dog) to get two additional outs.
Then there’s Charlie.
Oh, Charlie. Hindsight is a clear-perfect 20/20, so I’m not going to harp on the decision to not start Roy Halladay. But why, WHY did they bring him to this city if they weren’t going to use him on short rest? Afterall, that is one of the reasons the Phillies thought more highly of him than Lee. He has pitched on short rest before. Last night was the PERFECT time to use someone on short rest. If he started that game, the Phillies win. It’s that simple. Of course, we don’t know where that would leave us tonight, with Roy Oswalt pitching on short rest.
Oh hey, speaking of Owalt…
I had no problem with the decision to bring him in to pitch the ninth. That is until I found out that he threw a side session just three hours earlier. Why in the world, if he had any possibility of pitching, would Oswalt throw a bullpen session prior to the game? Charlie, in continuing with this whole “team” thing, placed that one squarely on Dubee’s shoulders during his post-game press conference. He said Oswalt told Dubee he could go, and that Dubee relayed that info to Manuel. I’m sorry, if you’re a manager, you have to know be more in control of that situation. Jonathan Sanchez didn’t throw a side session on Wednesday for exactly that reason. He knew, in a Game 4, that all hands are on deck. I’m not sure whether to blame Charlie, Dubee, or Oswalt on for this one. Or all three. Either way, Oswalt clearly didn’t have his normal “pop” in the 9th and the Phillies lost the game.
Give credit where credit is due. The Giants have pitched well and benefited timely hitting. They’ve had the Phillies on their heels this entire series. Usually the Phils are the ones who have the other team reeling, and as fans, we’re always waiting for the inevitable big hit. That hit hasn’t come during this series. If it doesn't come tonight, the season is over.