NLCS 2010: Cody Ross, San Francisco Giants Dampen the Mood in Philadelphia
Not once, but twice.
Unfortunately, I'm not talking about the number of no-hitters Roy Halladay threw in back-to-back playoff postseason appearances. Instead, I'm talking about the number of home runs Cody Ross had in back-to-back plate appearances against the aforementioned Halladay.
Ross has his name in the record books, and now the Phillies must regroup, look ahead to Roy II and his start on Sunday night and find a way to prevent themselves from falling to 0-2.
But in order to do so, they'll have to look back and figure out what went wrong in Game 1. The maddening part is it's not a long list and it's the same issues the Phils have had all year long.
If the pitching can't get the job done, the odds are against the bats picking up the slack.
For whatever reason, the offense has simply not been there. Overall the numbers aren't bad for the year, but even in baseball there's a lot to look at past the stats.
The clutch hits don't seem to be there as often anymore. The support for their pitcher when he has an off day hasn't been as prevalent. The big-name bats just simply are not pulling their weight and instead they're relying on Carlos Ruiz to produce for them out of the eight hole.
Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez and Jimmy Rollins were a combined 2-19 with 9 strikeouts and only one run scored. Jayson Werth—who probably slumped harder than anyone on the team in the regular season—was the only other guy to show up.
Werth, along with Ruiz, hit a home run. Both players accounted for all three RBIs on the team.
Someone needs to pull aside Victorino and Rollins and inform them that their game should be small-ball. They need to get on base and work from there. They are the fast guys who can score from first or steal a couple bases and walk home from second. Instead they're constantly trying to smack the ball out of the park and it results in nothing but strikeouts most of the time.
I recall closer to the beginning of the season when Rollins first hurt himself and the cameras caught him talking to Juan Castro before he went to the plate. Rollins pointed at the scoreboard and said something to the effect of "See that zero in the home run column? You have to change that. Just go for the fences."
I almost went through the roof.
Clearly Rollins' mentality all year has been to swing for the fences. He's not focused on hitting the ball in the gaps and running the bases. He wants to take the stroll with the fireworks in the background and doesn't seem to understand anymore that he's not that guy. Never has been.
It becomes quite evident his priorities are messed up when he's trying to convince Juan-freaking-Castro that he just needs to swing for the fences because not having a home run is a travesty.
Even the guys who are known for their ability to hit home runs quite often—Ibanez, Utley and Howard—are trying for the long-ball too often. If they would just head to the plate thinking they're going to take whatever the pitcher gives them (especially against a guy like Tim Lincecum) they would be much better off as individuals and for the team.
But right now, the only guys doing that are Ruiz, Werth and Wilson Valdez. No offense intended to any of those three players, but they're not the guys who are going to decide who wins and loses a World Series. Or, more to the point, who gets to play in the World Series.
If this team is going to make history they're going to need better decision-making from their superstars and get them back into the mentality that they're going to play as a team and for the team rather than seeing themselves on SportsCenter.
Notice, by the way, I haven't said anything about Placido Polanco. He's really just a guy at this point and is playing as such. Not too much can be expected of him—especially when the guys around him can't even make contact.
This team going 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and leaving seven on base is just not acceptable. There is far too much talent at every spot in the lineup for that.
They made it through the regular season and the NLDS with an underachieving offense, but the Giants' pitching staff is too good to allow them to just waltz their way into the World Series. They will have to earn it this year perhaps more than any other year, and can't rely on Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels to do it for them.
Yes, Halladay could have been better, but he's only human. These guys should be able to bail him out at least once since he's done it countless times already—including the night of his no-no.
And I leave you with this thought: what if Oswalt is as shaky Sunday night as he was for Game 2 against the Cincinnati Reds?
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