The Phillies took a tough loss today against the Dodgers to tie this NLCS series 1 game each. Pedro Martinez was brilliant through 7 innings where he allowed only 2 hits and no runs. You could not have asked for more out of him. But Martinez was pulled before the 8th inning in favor of a pinch-hitter and that proved to be a costly move as the bullpen could not hold down the 1-0 lead.
The pen has been the Achilles heel of this team all year. Yesterday, they pulled through; today, they did not. Manager Charlie Manuel went through five pitchers in the 8th inning and they combined to blow the lead. Chan Ho Park, who was amazing yesterday, started the inning and gave up two base hits with no outs. But it looked like he may escape the jam when Russell Martin hit an easy double play ball to third. No such luck…
In a rare and truly scary move, Chase Utley, for the second night in a row, overthrew first base which allowed the tying run to score and left 2 men on with 1 out. Last night, the slow feed from Jimmy Rollins and off-balance throw appeared to blame. But tonight, Utley just plain blew it. He rushed the throw when he had plenty of time and killed any chance Park had of getting out of the inning unscathed.
Utley is human, of course. And you cannot blame the loss on him when the only scoring the Phillies did all game was a solo homer by Ryan Howard. But it was a terrible waste of a great performance by Martinez and an even bigger waste of the opportunity to go up 2-0 in what will be a very tough series for this team.
JA Happ allowed the winning run to score for the Dodgers when he walked Andre Ethier with the bases loaded. The run was charged to Park. Chad Durbin got them out of the inning, but in the 9th, they offense went down 1-2-3. And to add insult to injury, Utley made the last out of the game by flying out to Ethier in right. I am betting that right now, Utley needs a hug; or maybe a big bowl of ice cream. Stiff drink anyone? Ugh.
This loss was depressing on a number of levels. But the good news is that we now have 3 games in Philly, starting on Sunday night. With any luck, and some sort of miracle in the bullpen, the Phillies can use the home field to get themselves back on track.
Photo by Jenn
Happy Bunny by Jim Benton
The Phillies had a 3-2 lead going into the 9th inning last night in their 2nd game against the Dodgers, but missed opportunities and shoddy defense gave the game away. Going 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position, the Phils wasted an outstanding performance by Jamie Moyer. Moyer had his longest outing of the year, going 7 innings and only allowing 2 runs on 4 hits with no walks. You could not have asked for more from the veteran lefty.
But the bats went silent after the 4th inning and of 11 runners left on base, Jimmy Rollins accounted for 4 of those in scoring position, going 0 for 5 in the game. Rollins is now batting a very sad .219. Five other Phillies, including Chase Utley with 2 RBI in the game, had 2 hit nights, but most of them were not at key times.
The big blow came in the 9th when Brad Lidge took over to attempt the save, which started out well. He retired the first 2 batters quickly, but then gave up a hit and a walk, both coming after having the batters down in the count 1 ball, 2 strikes. But when Russell Martin stepped up to the plate and hit an easy ground ball to third base, it looked like the Phils had the game in the bag. One out and they were done. No one expected Pedro Feliz to let the ball hop off his glove to load the bases, but that is exactly what happened. Feliz, normally a stellar fielder, missed a routine play that a little leaguer could have handled. And he cost the Phillies the game. The next batter smacked a hit down the right field line, 2 runs scored, game over; Dodgers win.
Of course, you cannot blame it all on Feliz; the offense should have scored more runs. All of the blown opportunities came back to bite them. Shane Victorino was held out of the line-up again, which does not help, but Eric Bruntlett who replaced him had 2 hits. So, you cannot say too much about that, except Bruntlett did miss a ball in the outfield that cost Moyer a run earlier in the game. Add the awful defense together with the sleepy bats and this is the result; a very sad, very disappointing loss in a game that should have been won.
So the 7 game win streak comes to an end and the Phillies will try to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get a win this afternoon. Joe Blanton will attempt to right the ship; game time is 4:10pm.
Photo by Jenn
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The Phillies started this game off right, with J-Roll hitting a lead-off single and Jayson Werth following with another. Chase Utley stepped to the plate next and whacked a double, which scored Rollins. Ryan Howard hit a ball to 2nd base for an out, but it scored Werth. Pat Burrell walked and then with one out, Shane Victorino followed up by hitting into a double play to end the threat. The Phillies could have had at least one more run if Shane could have gotten the ball out of the infield, but he’d make up for it later on.
Joe Blanton, after pitching 4 innings of one-run baseball, nearly blew it in the 5th inning. He walked Rafael Furcal to start the inning and then Andre Ethier singles to bring up Manny Ramirez. And as expected, Ramirez came up with the big hit to score the tying run. Russell Martin grounded out, but it scored another run. The inning ended on a double play, but the damage was done. The Phillies were then down 3-2. Blanton’s ERA on the night was 5.40 on 7 hits and 4 walks through 5 innings.
The next inning, the Phillies had an opportunity to get back into the game: Howard walked, Burrell singled, Victorino bunted them over and then, for some unknown reason, Charlie Manuel decides to pull Greg Dobbs and bat Pedro Feliz??? Ok, I know he was thinking pitching match-ups, but the Dodgers are perfectly capable of switching pitchers, which they did. Result: Feliz pops out, no runs score! Dobbs is a much better hitter, regardless of pitcher, and would have been much more likely to drive a ball deep for a sac fly or, even better, get a hit. This was a mistake if you ask me. But, pitcher Chan Ho Park threw a wild pitch to Carlos Ruiz which allowed Howard to score anyway, tying up the game again. Thanks, Mr. Park! Then another fun move by Manuel – he announces lefty Geoff Jenkins as the pinch hitter after Ruiz walks, which again, prompted another pitching change. Then, Manuel feels the need to burn another bench player by using So Taguchi in place of Jenkins. Result: Taguchi flies out to end the inning. Now, I am no psychic, but I could have told you that was going to happen. Taguchi has been useless all season. Why would the post-season be any different?
And that brings us to the bottom of the 6th where Chad Durbin takes over. First batter – home run. Second batter hits a double, and then Durbin walks the third. At this point, Phillies fans everywhere are screaming at their TV’s. Durbin was pulled for Scott Eyre: Furcal bunts; Howard fields it and then throws the ball away trying to get him out at first! Another run scores and the runners move up to 2nd & 3rd – still NO outs. Howard has done nothing with his bat this series and NOW he is driving us all nuts with his defense, which was consistently awful all year. Back to this nerve-wracking inning: Eyre got the next batter to line out and then gave the intentional walk to Ramirez. Ryan Madson came in to face Martin with the bases loaded and luckily, on a sharply hit line drive, Utley caught it and was able to pull off an amazing solo double play as he caught Furcal wandering too far off 2nd base. The score after 6 innings was 5-3, Dodgers.
Are you freaking out yet? Well, thank you Shane Victorino
for putting us all out of our misery! Shane whacked a 2-run homer in the 8th inning to tie up the game. You gotta love the Flyin’ Hawaiian! But wait, there’s more…with 2 outs, Carlos Ruiz singles and then Matt Stairs comes on to pinch hit. Joe Torre decides to put in Jonathan Broxton to pitch to Stairs with Ruiz on base. Broxton had not surrendered a home run since July 2006. So, what does Stairs do? Hits a 2-run homer off him! And just like that, the Phillies are back in the lead, 7-5 after possibly, the biggest pinch hit of the year.
On to the bottom of the 8th: JC Romero gets the first 2 outs and then, in a move that, honestly, I did not particularly agree with, Manuel brings in Brad Lidge to pitch to Ramirez. All I kept thinking was, if Ramirez gets a hit or a home run, you do not want Ramirez to become the new Albert Pujols in the mind of Lidge. Not to mention, Lidge has not pitched more than one inning all year and will have to pitch the 9th as well. Anyway, as I predicted, Ramirez hits a double off Lidge, extending the inning. The adventure continued as Martin struck out swinging, but it was a wild pitch that went far past Ruiz and Russell is safe at 1st while Ramirez moves up to 3rd. James Loney batted next and luckily, he flied out to left to end the near-disaster. Now, Lidge has already tossed 15 pitches going into the 9th with your only other option being Clay Condrey or JA Happ (maybe, as he pitched 3 innings yesterday) if Lidge gets into trouble.
The Phillies went down easily in the bottom of the 9th, despite a lead-off hit by Utley, who wound up going 3 for 5 in the game with 1 RBI. So, on to the bottom half with Lidge coming out to try and save the game. And despite my reservations, Lidge did not disappoint. He knocked the Dodgers down in order and the Phillies won, 7-5. The Phillies are now 85-0 when leading after the 8th inning, including the post-season (79-0, regular season). The Phils are now up in the series 3-1 and need only 1 more win over 3 possible games to go to the World Series! Day off tomorrow; Game 5 on Weds. At 8:22pm. Go Phillies! ONE MORE GAME!!!!!!!!!! J
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I think it’s about time someone started a support group for Cole Hamels.
How many times is this guy going to be subjected to this kind of mental abuse and torture? He pitches another great game, and his team comes up short AGAIN. Seriously…get the man some counseling. He is going to need it. 7 innings, 5 hits and only 2 earned runs – in any game, that should equal a win. But not with the Phillies; their bats went quiet again and even the bullpen managed to chip in and blow this one. Poor Cole…denied win #10 for the 7th time this year.
And how about that offense? 6 lousy hits, one of which was a solo home run from Chase Utley and another hit was from Hamels. Sad. And did we even use our BEST pinch hitter in this game, Greg Dobbs? Nooooooo…Charlie Manuel let Eric Bruntlett, “Mr. Automatic Easy Ground Ball”, bat in the 9th with a man in scoring position! And guess what happened? An easy ground ball for an out without even advancing the runner! Shocking, I know. I mean, if you are going to insist on starting Bruntlett (which again, I protest…Dobbs is better!), then you can at least have brains enough to hit for him in these situations! And then, another great management decision; let’s take Burrell out of the game again for defensive reasons! So who gets the crucial last play of the game? So “I can’t throw to save my life” Taguchi. And yes, there is a play at the plate in the bottom of the ninth…Andre Ethier singles to score Russell Martin and win the game; Taguchi’s throw is late and off-line, thus the Phillies have no shot at a comeback. But hey, I guess Manuel figured they can’t hit anyway, so why bother?
Does anyone else feel my frustration here? Oh gee, I almost forgot the bullpen…what happened to my super-awesome, adorably cute Chad Durbin? Oh please, don’t make me say bad things about him! My inner demons are right now having a war amongst themselves…it’s getting’ ugly in there! Oh, but I so love Mr. Durbin! What in the world was he thinking last night? He loads the bases on a hit, a walk and a hit batter in the 8th, which eventually leads to the tying run scoring on a sac fly …yuck! And JC Romero too, hitting the first batter? Did someone drug them? Yeah, that must have been it…I choose to believe it was all a terrorist act. Someone drugged our bullpen and made them do BAD, BAD things. And when I find out who it is, there will be no mercy. J
I am exhausted. Let’s all just hope the Phillies can rebound and pull out a win tonight behind newbie, Joe Blanton. Fingers & toes are crossed…