In a completely anti-Game 1 sort of way, the Philadelphia Phillies pulled off an unprecedented win against the Cincinnati Reds Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.
In a way, the Reds revealed a Phillies-like resilience about them.
In what could have been a culture shock for fans transitioning from Game 1 to Game 2, the team turned into the same old Phillies that they've come to know in the last four years.
Despite a horrendous start by one-third of H2O, Roy Oswalt was able to keep the damage minimal enough to support a Phillies late-game rally.
Experience was a huge factor in this.
While the Cincinnati Reds showed talent and power, the Phillies pulled out their wily veteran moves and remained calm. It's one thing to get a lead; it's another thing to keep it.
Despite what may seem like all bad for the Reds last night, these are very key learning opportunities they are receiving here.
With Dusty Baker getting his contract extended, we can only imagine that he's using these times to teach his team poise. It's an unfortunate occurrence that the team they drew in the NLDS were the shifty, resilient, powerful Philadelphia Phillies; it only makes sense to take the opportunity to grow.
Of all the things the Reds could have taken from these first two games, here are a few:
The Reds showed in both games that there are playoff jitters.
The Reds are tied for the least amount of errors in the National League.
However, in Game 1, they had three costly fielding blunders that ultimately cost them the game. In Game 2, it seems they learned to fight through the early game jitters, but failed to keep their poise to be able to bring it home, giving up four costly errors.
In the playoffs, every little mistake is exploited by resilient veteran teams. You cannot allow room for a team to be able to take advantage of you.
One good example is the matchup of Aroldis Chapman versus Chase Utley.
Chapman was beginning to look unhittable until he started grazing his pitches close to the batters. Utley, being the opportunist that he is, took a very close pitch and passed it off as a hit batter. He knew, like all of us, that it wasn't—but the opportunity was seized.
Of the four errors, Jay Bruce losing the ball in the lights or crowd was the error that gave the Phillies the lead. From there, you just knew: There isn't any turning back from this one.
The Reds will need to cut down their mistakes in Game 3 to have a shot.
I give them an A+ on this one. They bounced back after that punch in the mouth Wednesday night and brought a counter-punch early Friday.
They demonstrated the resilience that we've watched all year. They thrive off bad performances in that same way the Phillies do. The only difference, and I keep saying this, is experience.
The Phillies have been here, and if you recall from last year, their NLDS matchup was no walk in the park that year either—the Rockies gave them all they could handle. Still, the Phillies pulled juice out of their reserves and edged them out, something they have become known to do.
It's a lesson the Reds can learn from—and I'm positive they will.
Philadelphia can close this series out on Sunday at 7 p.m. in Cincinnati.
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