Rays-Phillies: Phillies Stung in Game Two

Brian McCardleContributor IOctober 23, 2008

Listen, I don't want to take anything away from the Tampa Bay Rays' Game Two win, but it was a lot closer than some people may think.

The Rays were the better team Thursday night, but it isn't saying a whole lot.

These aren't just the thoughts of an angered Phillies fan. Well, maybe a little. But even Joe Buck, who sounded like his dog just ran away while announcing a Game One victory for the Phillies, seemed bothered by the blown calls during the game.

The Rays took a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning.

After walking Akinori Iwamura, Phillies pitcher Brett Myers gave up a hit to B.J. Upton. Upton reached second on an error by Phils right fielder Jayson Werth, who only had two errors in the regular season.

First basemen Carlos Pena then grounded out to second, scoring Iwamura and sending Upton to third. Evan Longoria followed grounding out to Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, scoring Upton.  

Then in the bottom of the second inning, Rays right fielder Rocco Baldelli "walked" after home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley originally called the third strike. Even Joe Buck and Tim McCarver said Baldelli failed to hold his swing.

That blown call completely changed the inning, which ended with catcher Dioner Navarro scoring and Baldelli getting thrown out at home after another Upton hit.

In the fourth inning, Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett hit a sacrifice bunt to Myers, scoring designated hitter Cliff Floyd. And I know it was a safety squeeze, not a suicide squeeze, because Tim McCarver said it over and over. Then FOX showed a replay, allowing McCarver to describe it a final time.

In the bottom of the eight inning, Eric Bruntlett pinch-hit for DH Greg Dobbs and homered to left field, making it a 4-1 game. (After carefully rubbing my eyes it was confirmed, Bruntlett did hit the home run.)

Against Rays pitcher David Price in the ninth inning, catcher Carlos Ruiz doubled to left. 

Another blown call followed when Rollins' jersey was grazed by the ball, but Rollins was not given the signal to take his base. The shortstop then popped out. 

Werth followed by reaching first base off an error by Longoria, scoring Ruiz. 

After a strike out by Chase Utley, Ryan Howard swung at the first pitch and grounded out to second, ending the game at 4-2 in favor of the Rays. 

Neither team looked spectacular, but both had something to take notice of. 

For the Phillies, it was Howard getting on base twice. Despite his last at-bat, Howard doubled to deep center field and had a single to right. Also, Ruiz got on base in all four of his at-bats with two hits and two walks.

For the Rays, it was Upton getting two hits, including an RBI. Also, pitcher James Shields shut down the Phils through five-and-two-thirds innings, holding them to no runs and getting four strikeouts.

The game was difficult to watch. Besides watching countless commercials for another Vince Vaughn movie where he is with a woman who is way too attractive for him, and where he will undoubtedly play the same character he's played in movie after movie...It was another poor offensive performance by the Phillies.

The Phils continued their dreadful offensive performance with runners in scoring position. 

They went 0-for-7 with a runner at third and only one out. The N.L. champs also fell to a miserable 1-for-28 with runners in scoring position for the series.

"It's not like I go up there and say, 'Hey, there's a runner in scoring position—I think I'll strike out right now,'" Howard said. "It's part of the game, and it happens. Look at it how you want to look at it."

Rollins, who is 0-for-10 in the series, is a big part of the Phillies' offense and needs to contribute for this team to win the series. 

"Half of it is their pitchers making good pitches when there are two strikes," Rollins said. "The other half is us not doing it when we are ahead in the count. The bottom line is, we have to do a better job."

You know something is wrong when the highlight of the game is Carlos Ruiz reaching base in every at-bat and a homer by Eric Bruntlett. Eric Bruntlett?

"You're on the biggest stage, and you have to slow the game down and relax," said Phillies hitting coach Milt Thompson. "To simplify it, get a good ball to hit and don't miss it"

Hopefully guys like Ruiz and Victorino, who was 2-for-4 in the game, continue to produce, while guys like Utley, Rollins, Howard and left fielder Pat Burrell can consistently find their bats.  

"We're facing the best of the best right now," said Dobbs. "The Rays are here for a reason—because they have really good pitching. While it would be nice to have 12-14 hits every game and drive in 10 of 12 runners on base and win the game 10-2, it's not always gonna work out that way."

With the series tied 1-1, Game Three will be played in Philadelphia on Saturday night. Coverage begins at 8 PM on Fox. The 45-year-old Jamie Moyer will take the mound for the Phillies, while ALCS MVP Matt Garza pitches for Tampa Bay.

"It's gonna be crazy," Rollins said. "It's gonna be like an Eagles game. I've been to some Eagles games, and they can be very loud."