Morning Wood: All Tied Up

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So here we are. A 102-win regular season all comes down to this. 

The signing of Cliff Lee unofficially kicked off the 2011 campaign in December of 2010. From that point forward, anticipation grew for what promised to be a memorable regular season and – likely – even more memorable postseason.

There was a countdown to pitchers and catchers and a near-carnival atmosphere for a February press conference with the Four Aces and Joe. Many of us, in need of a taste of summer, made the trip to Clearwater for spring training. Opening Day arrived- John Mayberry Jr. walked it off. The following day, Cliff Lee took the mound to what had to be the loudest April 2nd cheer in the history of baseball. 

The spring rolled on, and the Phillies, for the most part, lived up to the expectations we set for them. By June – a month earlier than usual for me – I was searching MLB.com to see what the 2011 World Series logo looked like (I always like to get an idea of what patch will be ironed onto the side of our heads come October). Summer came and the Phillies added to their lead. Ruben Amaro traded for Hunter Pence. We ate. Lee dominated again in August, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels continued to be models of Cy Young-worthy consistency. Before we knew it, it was September and the Phillies squashed the Brewers and Braves… but in doing so, they allowed the Cardinals to gain ground. Last year, their three-game sweep of the Padres in August is what eventually allowed the Giants to squeak into the playoffs. This year, their dominance of the Braves gave the Cardinals new life. 

Now here we are: 2-2 when it counts. The Aces, who were so good all season, have given up 13 runs in 26 innings. Only one, Halladay, has pitched out of the sixth inning, so far. We can sit here and blame the lineup all we want for putting the team in a must-win situation, their first deciding game in over 30 years, but the Phillies were built around pitching… and it's the pitching that has let them down in this series. Lee was handed a 4-0 lead… at home. He lost it. Oswalt was handed a 2-0 lead in a clinching game. He lost it.

Tomorrow, Roy Halladay, arguably the best pitcher on the planet, has a chance to save the season.

I'm going to go throw up now.

 

*Here's a frightening tidbit: If the Phillies lose tomorrow, they are going to own the dubious distinction of having a reverse correlation between regular season and postseason success for three consecutive seasons. They've increased win totals in each of the last three seasons. However, in the first two years of that streak, 2009 and 2010, they've taken one step backwards in their postseason success. A Game 5 loss would make it three years in a row. 

 

Tony La Russa complains about the Cardinals' whining label: [STLToday.com]

"If you don't answer the question, then you're not cooperative. If you do answer the question, you come out like excuse-makers," La Russa asserted. "That really (angers me). If there's one thing this team is not it is excuse-makers. … The only thing that can not be ignored, it can be dangerous."

He later added, "Anyone who would accuse this team of whining has not been around it. That's an insult to me and to them."

 

Roy Oswalt had a serious problem with the now hated squirrel: [Philly.com]

"He wouldn't take the pitch away, and I told him as I was throwing the ball I saw [the squirrel] out of the corner of my eye," Oswalt said. "I didn't want to stop in the middle of my motion, so I threw it, and I asked him if we could take that pitch back. He said no. Then he told me the count was 1-1 and when I got back on the mound he told me it was 2-1, so we kind of had a back and forth on that. I thought it was down a little bit. I got distracted. Never had anything like that happen before."

 

Charlie Manuel would have killed it: [NESN]

"Of course, being from the South and being a squirrel hunter, if I had a gun there, might have done something," he said. "I'm a pretty good shot."

 

Game 5, 8:37 tomorrow night.

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39 Responses

  1. I’m useless at work. I can’t go on espn.com, mlb.com, philly.com. I can’t watch SportsCenter or turn on the radio. I’m confident in Doc doing his dang thing but if I have to watch another 6 strike out performance from Howard and Ibanez I’m going to puke.

  2. I get that it makes for a better story, but Oswalt is not an Ace and hasn’t been one for years now. Was it a shock that Lee lost a 4-0 lead? Yes, yes, and yes. Was it a shock that Oswalt lost a 2-0 lead? Not at all.
    Have to feel good about Doc in game 5. And he even said that it’s not the start on 3 days rest that gets you, it’s the next one. So hopefully that’s exactly what happens with Carpenter and the Phillies bats come alive for more than just 1 inning.

  3. Pitching hasn’t been great but the hitting is fucking pathetic. This team hasn’t learned anything from last postseason. If it wasn’t for Francisco, this series would already be over.

  4. @kenny, HAHAHAHA, nose… thats great! we do have some hope for howard as a righty will be pitching. At least i hope!

  5. Go ahead and get it out of your system because you need to be in top form tomorrow night slacker. Jroll’s backed up his mouth in this series, now it’s the crowd’s turn.

  6. We have no plate discipline, it’s fucking pathetic. Meanwhile, every fucking Cardinal is capable of putting together at least one good AB. Howard’s approach was a disgrace. It’s easy to see he’s going to get everything soft and away, I don’t know why he doesn’t know that. He’s pulling off everything, fix him Cholly before tomorrow. Ross Gload had more hits than Howard, Ibanez, Chooch, and Polly combined last night, what a joke. If they lose I might have to murder somebody, most likely Dick Stockton.

  7. Could it also be, that the Phillies got the worst possible draw of any team in the Playoffs?
    No team had a better lineup, no team has a single better player, no team was playing any better than the St. Louis Cardinals.
    I thought the Phillies would take it in five before the series began, I see no reason to change that.
    Doc does his thing, the Bats (sheer ebb and flow and numbers) come alive and the Phillies take this game and series.
    4-2 Phillies

  8. I said it in the last post but the thing with that turncoat varmint is that it distracted the HP Ump Angel Hernandez more than Oswalt. I thought it was borderline low but that butt-headed ump should fess-up that he wasn’t looking at the pitch at all but at the tree rat at his feet. Why worry, Herny? Doesn’t your MLB-provided health plan cover rabies shots?
    I’m not whining like a certain hair-system-ed manager, but between this and calling Hunter Pence out for stealing second last nite when he was clearly safe, and with Jerry Meals drastically altering the strike zone on Cliff Lee, I just hope the Selig and his crew in charge of offishitating need to go back and take a look at how shittily this series has been called.

  9. what is so WRONG with 1-out man on second ???
    lead-off runner on, pop up, K – 2 outs man on first
    not a winning recipe

  10. Trust me skadoosh, much like Charlie, I’m all gut on things like this. I just feel the combo of Doc, the home crowd, and the exhaustion of six weeks of elimination games for the Cards all comes together.
    Phillies win 4-2.

  11. Would someone please explain why the majority of this team stairs at 1st pitch strikes that go right down the middle of the plate? I get doing it in the first AB maybe, but after that its maddening. They can hit closers like Broxton, in the clutch, who throw 98mph but they stare at Edwin Fuckin Jackson’s fastballs when they go right over the middle of the plate on the first pitch. And to make matters worse, two swings later at balls in the dirt and they’re out!

  12. Pete H — I would bet that it was a coaches strategy to look at the first pitch. It just doesn’t make sense to me. They are major league ball players. Go to the plate and swing at strikes. Give the batters some freedom at the plate, I mean I would hope that they have the plate discipline at this point in their career to decipher a strike and a ball.

  13. I’m with Mark on this. Restless, useless, can’t listen to sports radio, can’t watch sports on TV and besides morning wood do not want to read anything on the internet. Doc is the only man I have faith in right now, the bats, not so much. The only difference is I already threw up last night watching Howard and Ibanez strike out.

  14. Why doesnt Howard ever adjust his stance? Soft, and trailing away pitches he swings every time at, and misses horribly. If he leans in further, or steps closer to the plate, those whiffs may be closer and he possibly garner a few bloop hits, instead of inning ending/rally ending/game changing STRIKEOUTS.
    I just watch him come to plate, move around his legs, adjust, point bat at pitcher, then swing at every pitch that starts in but trails away….if he moves closer, I am SURE he could get better contact and perhaps hit a few more singles ….since we all know…HR or K, K always wins!

  15. @Aaron, i have been screaming that at the TV every game. he is SOOOOO far off the plate he is barely in the box, and there is no way he can reach the low and away stuff…. matter of fact he is so far away, he makes the low and away strike zone double in size!

  16. Agree with Nick…Howard should be shown at the top of the page flailing at one of the 100 balls in the dirt that he strikes out on….not Utley, who along with Rollins, is carrying this team offensively.

  17. While I understand the “strike zone box” that TBS shows is slightly arbitrary (not 100% accurate), it’s interesting to note that again, St. Louis seemed to get more calls that were either borderline or off the plate.
    I guess I never paid much attention to it during the year (or whatever channel I was watching the game on didn’t have it), but it appears that Phillies pitchers could be getting squeezed a little or is there really that much inconsistency with every pitch, inning, ump.
    Thoughts? And no, I’m not a tin-hat wearing fan thinking that the world is against us.

  18. Ryan Howard is incapable of changing.
    Move closer to the plate and hit the ball the other way if its on the outside corner.
    He continues to make the same mistakes over and over again.

  19. Does Howard ever practice hitting?
    He should have a left handed pitcher throw him sliders and off speed stuff at the outside corner all day until he falls over and try to hit that crap the other way.
    Does Howard ever practice hitting what he cant hit against left handed slop pitchers who continually try to pitch away at the outside corner?????

  20. YO GET ME TO THE PLATE, DAWG. UNLESS THEY’VE GOT A LEFTY PITCHING. IN THAT CASE YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN.

  21. Uh, if you all were not so fucking stupid, you would know that Howard is from STL and throwing the game so the Cardinals can win.
    Duh!

  22. Oswalt coughed up a two-run lead in St. Louis. Lee coughed up a four-run lead in Philadelphia.
    Halladay coughed up four runs before dominating the rest of the way. Hamels perservered through six scoreless innings.
    None of these things is remotely like the others.
    Hands down, Hamels has performed the best of the starters up to this point.
    Jimmy Rollins is actually having a great series, except for the fact that only Utley and sometimes Pence have been getting on base after him.
    When we advance, I’d give some thought to giving Polanco a night off sometime after Game 1. Valdez or Martinez can’t do much worse at the plate right now, as difficult as it is for me to say that.

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