The Phillies travelled to San Francisco for Game 3 of the NLCS but apparently, they did not take their bats with them. They did the same thing back in April when they scored only 3 runs in the first 2 games of that series. And last year, the Phils lost 3 of 4 against the Giants in San Fran. The Phillies lack of offense and extended slumps throughout the year were a big concern going into the postseason and it is easy to see why.
In today’s game, the Phillies left 7 men on base and went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. They had hit Giants pitcher Matt Cain very well in previous meetings, but not today. Cain blanked them through 7 innings despite hitting 2 batters and walking 3; that is 5 free base runners that the Phillies did absolutely nothing with.
Chase Utley was the worst offender, leaving 3 on base and hitting a bunch of weak grounders. He also missed a ground ball which led to runs, although it was officially not scored an error. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino left 2 on base and Raul Ibanez left 3. Ibanez looked ridiculous at the plate, swinging at pitches well out of the strike zone, even grounding into a double play to end the game. Early in the year, Ibanez suffered from prolonged slumps that took weeks and months to emerge from. The Phillies do not have time for him, or anyone else, to break out of it. I admire Charlie Manuel for sticking by his guys, but it is time for a wake-up call here.
So the Phillies offense wound up with only three hits the entire game. And although Cole Hamels was not at his best, it really didn’t matter what he did. Three hits are not going to win any ball games. Hamels had a quality start with 3 runs allowed in 6 innings, but I am sure even Hamels is not happy with that result. But he certainly did not get any help.
The two ex-Phillies on the Giants roster had a hand in the damage. Pat Burrell walked with 2 outs in the 4th to set up Cody “The Devil” Ross, who singled in a run. Burrell then scored on an Aubrey Huff single. Then Aaron Rowand led off the 5th with a double and eventually scored. I am sure Burrell and Rowand had a nice time sticking it to the team who sent them packing.
While this is a best of 7 series, the Phillies are now in big trouble. Joe Blanton was set to pitch tomorrow, but that game is now a must-win. It is possible that Manuel may ask his 3 ace’s all to pitch on 3 day’s rest. Blanton has not pitched since 9/24.
However, I am not so sure that short rest will be a good thing for any of these 3 starters, especially when you consider the number of innings they all pitched in the regular season. Roy Halladay pitched 250 2/3 innings this year, 2nd most in his career. Roy Oswalt pitched 211 2/3 and Hamels has never pitched on short rest. In fact, Hamels would be most affected as he has been very vocal in years past about being able to stick to his usual routine.
But even more concerning is the lack of energy and production out of this Phillies offense. They look lethargic and complacent. Right now, I feel like I am writing an obituary instead of a blog entry. No, they are not dead yet, but it is getting close. I would love to be wrong on this. Game 4 tomorrow: 7:30pm.
a post-game interview, Charlie Manuel said Blanton will start tomorrow.
Happy Bunny by Jim Benton