Well, that certainly didn't go the way the Phillies and their fans would have liked. And I'm not going to talk about Jamie Moyer at all. He's been a solid force for the Phils all year, and they should have been able to pick him up. After all, he only gave up two runs.
I have moaned before about the Phils' penchant for leaving men on base and having no ability to do simple things like... move the runner along.
Ryan Howard, who has been dormant in this series, doubled to lead off the 2nd. A ground out and two fly outs later, he was still on second. End of inning. I know that dissenters just love to tell me that you don't ask a longball hitter like Pat Burrell to bunt... but is the end result of trying worse than a ground out that does NOT advance the runner?
In the 4th, the marginally less dormant Chase Utley singled to lead off. Howard grounded out, and Utley advanced. The advancement was simply a by-product of the at-bat, rather than a deliberate attempt to move the runner. Burrell and Shane Victorino lined out to end the inning.
As a Phils fan, I love to watch both these guys play, and I wouldn't want either of them to go anywhere. But... I'd like to see something more than a collective 4-for-22 batting record. And I don't mean homers. Just... hit the ball.
The 5th: Pedro Feliz singled to open the inning. Carlos Ruiz lined out. Anyone else thinking that maybe trying a bunt would be something worth trying? Not the Phils. Matt Stairs flied out to center and Jimmy "Front Runner" Rollins popped out to shortstop.
Please note the number of times I have written the word "out" in these recaps. I realize that outs are part of the game. But other teams manage to be creative and have more meaningful outs. Outs that advance runners and keep the opponent a bit off guard.
The 6th: Jayson Werth triples to open the inning - another lead off hit. Surely, they'll score some runs with this setup, right? Utley pops out. Sigh. Howard grounds out, and Milwaukee is only happy to trade the out for a run. After all, it's 3-0 at this point, and the Phillies are showing few signs of life.
Wouldn't a suicide squeeze have been a gas here? Who would expect it? And what's the worst that could happen? Werth is nailed at the plate? At least he'd have been near the plate!! I know, I know... it's blasphemy to suggest that Utley or Howard even ATTEMPT to bunt. They hit homers, they aren't paid to bunt. They are paid to help the team, right? Just food for thought, here...
7th: 1-2-3. Milwaukee coasting. They even add an insurance run in the bottom of the 7th, fueled by.... you guessed it! A sacrifice!!
Finally, in the 8th, with one out, Rollins tried to bunt for a hit. Didn't work, but I am surprised and elated that someone on the Phillies (especially someone as... discerning a batter as Rollins) actually knows what a bunt is. Werth doubles, and is stranded.
The 9th ends on a controversial double play. A fitting end, quite frankly.
Look - I'm not going to sit here and say that all is bad for the Phils. They do need to wrap things up and send Milwaukee home, though. And I know that nothing will change. They're going to continue to leave men on base and they're going to continue to play the feast-or-famine game that relies almost exclusively on someone hitting a homer.
It's served them pretty well thus far, and a 2-1 lead in the playoff series is not a horrible position to be in. Especially after a crushing 3-0 sweep last year to the they-were-no-better-than-the-Phils Colorado Rockies.
I'm glad to see Howard and Utley get some hits. Many people (including me) have said that if the Phils can get Rollins, Howard, Utley and Burrell all hitting at the same time - watch out. This can be a dangerous team - but they need to choose to be that way.
I hope they don't get overly worked up and tense over whay happened last night. Put it away, bury it deep. Come out swinging. It's not like the Brewers are lighting up the scoreboard - and the Phils have already beaten the Brew Crew's best hope - C.C. Sabathia (looked more like CC DeVille the other night). Win it now - don't give Milwaukee any more candy. Slam the door in their face.