“Brad Lidge and Cole Hamels have cost us the Series.”
Is that REALLY the reason? Can you blame Lidge and Hamels for the hole? After all Lidge did give up 3-runs in the ninth inning of a game four loss after Pedro Feliz tied the game at four in the eighth inning. Plus Cole Hamels gave up five runs in the Phillies game three loss.
To me, that’s just idiotic to blame those two guys.
Diving deeper into the series you will see that there are more pressing issues to the Phillies which include pitch selection, poor managerial decisions, and the lack of production from left-handed batters Chase Utley (unless he’s facing Sabathia), Ryan Howard (10 K’s in the series), and Raul Ibanez (3-16 in the series with 9 K’s).
The first issue to bring up is, pitch selection.
Last night Brad Lidge and company made a series of poor pitch selections to Damon and he made them pay. With the count at one ball and two strikes to Damon, Brad Lidge called upon his bread and butter pitch that put away the two previous batters; Hideki Matsui, and Derek Jeter. Johnny Damon barely kept his at bat, and the inning, alive by foul tipping it.
If I were Brad Lidge, Carlos Ruiz, or whoever was deciding what pitches to call, on that very next pitch I would have gone back to that slider. Instead, they opted to throw a fastball. Okay, so what, you change up his eye line, and keep him on his toes.
Then the unexplainable happens. Damon gets a base-hit on the 5th consecutive fastball. Lidge got beat, with his number two pitch. Not once after Damon barely stayed alive did he go back to that slider. What’s the deal with that?
Why would you abandon your best pitch when you’re ahead of the batter 1-2 in the count? After that, Damon, wisely stole second base. That gave Mark Teixeira, who has only 1-hit in the series, a chance to become the hero. An ill-timed throw on the steal by Catcher Carlos Ruiz (he shouldn’t have thrown it), and that quickly Damon is at third on a smart base running play.
Problem number two for the Phillies. Charlie Manuel’s managerial decisions. No, this is not about starting Joe Blanton in game four; I am completely okay with that. The problem is base-running, and run production decisions.
Last night, after both Rollins and Victorino got on base with nobody out Chase Utley comes to the plate. At this time, I’m thinking that Charlie HAS to bunt the runners over or double steal, down two runs.
I know, I know…it's Chase Utley, and he’s hit Sabathia well this series, and you don’t want to take the bat out of his hands. You HAVE to get out of the double play chance if you're down by two runs with nobody out. That (double steal, or sacrifice bunt) would move both Victorino and Rollins into scoring position, assuming weak-throwing Posada doesn’t throw either of them out or Utley himself reaches base.
If I’m Charlie I take that chance.
What ended up happening? Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both pop out, then lefty killer Jayson Werth strikes out to end the inning.
The third and final problem are from the lackadaisical lefties; the trio of Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, and Ryan Howard. The three are a combined 10-for-48 (.208) with 22 strikeouts, and 7 RBI’s.
Simply put, if these guys could produce the series would AT LEAST be tied. You cannot win if the middle of your lineup does NOT produce. If you take away Chase Utley’s four hits against Sabathia this series the trio has only SIX hits.
For Philly to get back into this series it will need to have better pitch selection in key situations, better managerial decisions when facing deficits, and more production from the lefty trio. If not, well then the series is over and the Yankees will take home their 27th World Series title.
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