Now before I address my analysis of this game, let me get one thing clear.
Jimmy Rollins, in 2008, called Phillies fans "front-runners." Now, was that called for J-Roll? Do you really think we're front-runners?
Or is it that we care too much? So much, that we are in deep when the dagger goes through our hearts? Kinda like a Romeo and Juliet kinda thing.
Some of us love our Phils so much this 3-1 hole could resemble the "death-like coma" that Juliet was in...how do we respond to what seems to be a tragedy? Dramatically. Just as Romeo did. It could cost us, though (as it always does). It could make us look ridiculous, like the rest of the Nation thinks we are, when really, it's passion.
With that being said—the Phillies suck!
The game was over when one-fourth of our stubborn shot-callers of Philadelphia decided to keep Blanton as the starter when everyone knew, even him, that this was a game that was absolutely needed. How do we know Manuel was caught like a deer in the headlights? Roy Oswalt closed the...(gathering myself)...when Roy Oswalt closed the game.
That told me, Charlie is making a desperate move NOW in the ninth, when he should have made an urgent move BEFORE the first.
The bats—you can't ask anymore out of the bats, (not really) they did their job. (It's all politics, folks.) The pitching however...not good enough.
This one falls on Manuel's hand.
If it's not enough, he went with Blanton in the first place after 20, or so, days of not throwing a ball in a series in which they were down 2-1, and he yanks him in the fifth as if his first name were Jerry, and he managed the Mets.
Blanton still had the lead, albeit, he was laboring through. His decision set in motion a chain of events that ended with Roy Oswalt trying to pitch in a wildly unfamiliar role, needless to say (so why am I saying it?), he failed. Oswalt gave up two singles and a sacrifice fly that proved costly for the Phils, and made our managers look extremely _____ (fill in the blank). You name it.
While I'll give Manuel credit, he was trying to win the game at all costs—and that does says a lot about a man, this is not PS3; can't expect that to work in real life Uncle Char.
Phil Sheridan of Philly.com, couldn't have said it better when he said in his column:
We'll never know what would have happened if they had started Roy Halladay on short rest Wednesday night. Maybe he would have shut the Giants down, maybe not. Manuel's gamble was that Blanton would turn in a decent start, the offense would score a few runs off rookie Madison Bumgarner, and the series would be tied.
And that's just what was happening until Manuel walked to the mound with two out in the bottom of the fifth inning. Let's be clear. No one is suggesting Blanton is any more than what he is, a good major-league pitcher. He does not have the stellar array of pitches that Halladay, Oswalt, and Cole Hamels use to dazzle hitters. He is not a shutout waiting to happen.
But Manuel and Dubee decided to give him the ball in the biggest game of the postseason so far. If that was the right call, then logic dictates they needed to go all in with Blanton. If he was good enough to deserve this start, he was good enough to finish the fifth and then go another inning or two.
How could I have said it any better?
After the game, Manuel said, as reported by David Murphy of Philly.com:
"He [Oswalt] already told [pitching coach Rich] Dubee that he was ready to go. He wanted to be in there. I didn't ask him. Dubee told me Oswalt could go." Manuel was asked that since he used Oswalt, why didn't he just start ace Roy Halladay in Game 4? "I think I have answered that haven't I?" Manuel said. "[Joe] Blanton had a lead when he left."
Charlie, if Oswalt told you he wanted to jump off a bridge—would you let him?
I've made it very clear, all season...I've made numerous predictions this year and I can't think of one that hasn't come to fruition.
So this, what I'm about to say, is scary.
Philadelphia...it's all over. Not officially, of course. But, in a Romeo and Juliet kind of way. 3-1 is a deficit not many overcome. Could this be another thing to add to the Phillies legacy? A 3-1 comeback?
Maybe, but I'm afraid not. The Phils need to figure something out, quick. Before this love affair becomes a complete tragedy. We need the Friar to make sure the message gets to Philly fans like me, who are making dramatic predictions such as these:
Giants in six. (Shaking my head.)
Rip me to shreds Philly. Tell me I'm wrong. Be the messenger that didn't get to Romeo in time to tell him it isn't what it appears to be. I need the pep talk.
Bookmark this article and I hope you all have the chance to return and tell me what an idiot I am in true Philly style. I can handle it. It's certainly something I'd be glad to be dead wrong and ignorant about.
Oh Philly, wherefore art thou bats? Wherefore art thou strikes? And wherefore art thou manager's brains? For never was a story of more woe / Than this of what happened, in Game 4, in San Francisco.
Note: This article also appears on Sports Haze.com.