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Friday, October 24, 2008

Phils Can't Take Stranglehold; Series 1-1

Fans have a tendency to say their team lost a game, as opposed to the other team winning a game. I certainly put myself in that category. Tonight, though, I truly think the Phillies lost the second game of the World Series to Tampa Bay. The 4-2 loss sent the Series to Philadelphia tied, 1-1.

Brett Myers pitched 7 innings, officially giving up three runs. But it can be argued he only gave up one. A Jason Werth error in the first made it second and third, and officially led to 1 unearned run. But when two grounders follow, both of which could have been double-play balls ending the inning with just one run, I can’t put that on Myers. In the second Myers had a clear strikeout, which the home plate umpire seemed to call, appealed into a walk. The Rays ended up scoring a two-out run.

But bottom line, the Phillies lost at the plate. They are now 1 for 28 with runners in scoring position and have left 22 men on base in the Series, 11 tonight. Ryan Howard finally had a couple of hits. But only a pinch-hit home run by Erik Bruntlett and Carlos Ruiz, who doubled twice, led to runs.

Unbelievably, Jimmy Rollins was clearly hit by a pitch after Ruiz doubled to start the ninth and it wasn’t called. Two critical hit-by-pitch calls missed in one game is just brutal. It would have been first and second with nobody out. Instead, Rollins popped out to go 0-for-the-Series. Werth did knock in Ruiz, but Chase Utley and Howard were unable to get a rally going.

So, yes, the Phillies got the split in Tampa Bay. But with the ridiculous 2-3-2 format meant to save the media travel expense, this is a tough loss because they must win three straight to keep from relinquishing home field advantage. To do that the bats will likely need to wake up. Utley was 0-for-4 with a walk, and Rollins is just completely off right now. And despite 2 hits tonight, Howard’s hot September is a distant memory. That won’t get it done.

With a day off and rain predicted for Saturday, the Phillies have at least a day to find their swing. As they say, now it’s a series.

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