Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Blown lead

The Phillies went three up-three down this week and blew the wild-card lead. They trail the Astros by a 1/2 game with two more against Houston, so there still is hope. Judging by the comments in the blogosphere, each loss is getting more frustrating.

A sampling from around the horn:

From Balls, Sticks and Stuff: As of late, the team is falling back into a maddening pattern that we've seen over the course of the season: scoring runs in bunches one night, and then failing to score more than one or two the following night. The pitching staff has been fairly consistent, keeping the team in the game, night after night, but it is the offense that seems to let the Phillies down in a loss.

Over the past twenty games, the Phillies have a record of 10-10 and have scored 7 runs or over 5 times. Over that same span, the Phils have also 3 runs or less eight times.

Had the Phillies scored 5 hypothetical runs in each and every one of those twenty games, they would have gone 12-5 and sent three others to extra innings. Had they scored just 4 hypothetical runs in each of the last twenty games, the Phils would have had a record of 10-8 with two games going into extra innings.

Like any sport, baseball is a game of highs and lows, and so to expect exactly 5 runs every night would be ludicrous. But the roller coaster of run totals the Phillies have displayed in the last three weeks or so is clearly hurting them in their quest to make the playoffs. And with their third loss in a row last night, the Phils are no longer in first place in the Wild Card hunt. To make the playoffs, they will now need to come from behind with a pitching staff that is beginning to wear thin.

From Swing and Miss:

For the third consecutive game the starting pitcher stumbled out of the gate and for the third straight day the offense failed to overcome the deficit.

Two ninth inning rallies cannot hide the awful truth: the Phillies aren’t hitting, especially when it counts. Still, they had a chance to tie or win in the bottom of the ninth, but Charlie Manuel in his infinite wisdom chose to have Matt Kata run for Ryan Howard and let Endy Chavez bat to end the game, flailing. A pitch earlier Endy fouled off a ball that bounced in front of the plate.

Why Manuel didn’t have Chavez pinch run and let Kata pinch hit is a complete mystery, but, then, moves of more than one person are too much for the Phillies' skipper. Kata, a switch-hitter, couldn’t be less capable than Endy; no one in the major leagues is less capable than Endy. Two batters earlier Manuel had used Shane Victorino so it cannot be a matter of not wanting use a call-up in that crucial spot.

From PhilliesNation:

Only seconds have passed since Endy Chavez ended Monday's nights game, so I should probably calm down before writing this, but I won't. What a terrible at-bat. I mean what was going on there? The first pitch is check swing foul ball, and Endy has this look of amazement that he made contact. The next pitch he whiffs completely. Then, he fouls off a ball that bounces in front of the plate. Let me reiterate, he fouled off a ball that bounces in front of the plate. Mind you, there are runners on second and third and like Lofton's run earlier, that pitch easily could have gotten away from Astros catcher Brad Asumus and allowed the tying run to score. What a joke, Endy. But I guess the joke is on us, because really, should we expect anything more?


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