Philadelphia Phillies: Can They Have Their Cake and Eat It Too?
This was the last stat I saw on the Phil’s odds of winning this series: In NLCS history, 20-of-29 teams that led the series 2-1 went on to win.
Those are good stats. Better than mine. My numbers make me a goddess in like some other universe—one where the ratio of guys to girls is 10 to 1. And every guy is snow-blind.
Hey, aren’t those are the odds in Alaska? No wonder Sarah Palin is so popular. She has big boobs and can group words together to make a sentence. She struggles with logical thought, but no one’s even noticed. She’s living proof that after eight years of No Child Left Behind, we’ve eliminated the need for reasoning altogether.
Whoa, did I just say that?
Hey, everything there is to be said about the Phils has already been said, so I might as well drag Sarah into it. Why not? She wants to be a part of everything else. I heard she even offered to speak on behalf of New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie.
New Jersey? Isn’t that a continent?
No, but I think I can see it from here.
Enough of that. Let’s hit the highlight reel.
Remember this line in the first inning: “(Randy) Wolf allowed only one home run in the regular season.”
Well, welcome to Citizens Bank Park.
Just a few pitches later, Ryan Howard sent a long ball over the CBP wall that gave him and Jimmy Rollins the right to prance across the plate to put the Phillies on the board in the first, up by two. And it gave Wolf a dinger for his postseason stats as well. I love efficiency.
Then for the first three innings, we saw Joe Blanton as the workhorse. As I’ve said before, even the Amish are looking at him. But he looks more like he belongs in a starring role of Knocked Up than on a major league mound throwing pitches. And with Andre Ethier, Manny Ramirez, and James Loney stacked up in the lineup with a history of success against him, he definitely had a long row to hoe.
In the fourth, with his zone getting smaller and smaller as home plate umpire Ted Barrett suffered from tunnel vision (don’t even get me started on the officiating), I thought Charlie Manuel might go to the pen. Even Joe Torre knows you can’t swing at Joe Lumber when he’s low, but if you take that part of the zone away, what’s left is something that gets hit into play. And that’s what happened to Matt Kemp in the fifth.
Dodgers up by one.
But then in the sixth, Shane Victorino showed off with a stand-up triple, becoming an RISP for Stone Cold Chase Utley to use as an RBI and shake Wolf’s confidence with Howard coming to the plate. Howard was there to prove that falling for the breaking ball is a thing of the past when he walked and closed the door on Wolf’s night after only 88 pitches. Chalk another one up for Little Ryan Riding Howard.
Then, as if it wasn’t bad enough that Blanton had to face Manny Ramirez with a man on base in the seventh, Ethier’s blocked stolen base attempt gave Manny the chance to foil the Phil’s hopes again in the eighth against Ryan Madson. If Mad Dog has his eye on the closing position, he’s definitely following in the footsteps of Brad Lidge by creating nail-biters. I know he started and ended the eighth with a K, but does he have to give me agita in between?
Bottom of the eighth. Note to self—kill Sherrill. I also found out my kid can hide a peanut in his bellybutton. If that’s the case, I’ll bet Jonathan Broxton could lose a pretzel stick in his. At least his sideburns are slendering.
Then the ninth. When’s the last time we saw Brad Lidge come in to not only close the game, but to bail out Scotty Eyre? I’m not gonna blow a gasket looking for that stat, but I will say this: It’s refreshing to see Lidge as the Lights Out Lord instead of the Two-Run Ruin.
An 18-minute top of the ninth could definitely be blamed for Broxton’s meltdown. If it was planned, it was strategic. And speaking of bellybuttons, I’ll bet Matt Stairs could hide a hot dog in his. Stairs was as instrumental in busting Broxton’s balls in this year’s Game Four as he was in last year’s. Stairs’ base on balls set Eric Bruntlett on base to pinch run and to become the first of two runs needed to win on Jimmy’s line drive to right. If Broxton’s 100 mph fastball can’t ensure a game, who ya gonna call?
We know that feeling. The Phillies go-to guy blew 11 saves this year.
So the wavering strike zone soon forgotten, the Phillies sit as pretty as the Yankees going into Game Five. What are the odds they win?
With Rollins playing a dual role as the lead-off batter and the walk-off hero, Howard vying to break Lou Gehrig’s consecutive RBI postseason record, Victorino and the boys sugaring the field with hits, and Charlie so thin we can almost see his chin, can we possibly check Game Five off the list?
It depends on who says this the loudest: “I want it.”
And Cole Hamels will be responsible for the “I”. Personally, I haven’t been impressed with Hamels’ performance this season and that goes for more than just his hurling. I know he pitched 227 innings in the 2008 regular season and he could be suffering from a phenomenon coined by a Sports Illustrated writer whose name now escapes me.
I also know his performance last year earned him his first juicy major league contract and a condo in Liberty Place that has a view of Citizens Bank Park for that new baby of his, but I also know games are won one pitch at a time—not by getting frustrated, and whining and apologizing about it later.
Both Pedro Martinez and Cliff Lee proved that maintaining your cool and keeping hitters off kilter is key. Hopefully Hamels comes to the park Wednesday night ready to drop the ‘tude and use his changeup as the frosting on the cake instead of the batter.
Here’s hoping the Phillies can have their cake and eat it too.
See you at the ballpark.
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