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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Phils Pushed to the Brink

An ugly loss has pushed the Phillies to the brink of elimination, down 3-1 to the San Francisco Giants. Last night’s loss is still stinging as we approach the first of what we hope will be three must-win games.

I’d like to feel like the Phillies at least have the three best pitchers any team can have lined up to go in this situation. Yet, in a flurry of stupid moves last night, Charlie Manuel used Roy Oswalt in relief leaving open the question of who exactly would pitch Game 7 if the Phillies get that far.

I didn’t mind Manuel pitching Joe Blanton last night with the logic of not pitching Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt on short rest. So why pitch Oswalt two days after he started? Reports are he’d already thrown his side session earlier in the day.

While Manuel cost the Phillies the game and likely the series last night, he wasn’t alone. He took Blanton out too soon creating the need to eventually go to Oswalt. Jimmy Rollins looks absolutely awful. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard aren’t doing much better. This team absolutely refuses to play small ball, and doesn’t seem all that capable of it. Carlos Ruiz gets thrown out trying to score from second on a base hit, and Shane Victorino doesn’t get to second. I can live with the team trying to be aggressive, especially the way they’re hitting, but Victorino continues to fail to run the bases with anything resembling a clue. He scored anyway, so it got overlooked, but he keeps making these mistakes year after year.

Manuel has even made the point that this team hasn’t been the offensive force it’s thought to be since the middle of last year. So why isn’t anybody adjusting to it? How about putting Rollins and Victorino at the top of the lineup, and stealing some bases? Rollins is supposedly down in the lineup because of a bad hamstring, yet he was picked off trying to steal last night.

We’ve heard about H2O since Roy Oswalt came to town. I’m not sure the sequence of Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt, even if he can pitch again, is going to be enough to overcome a 3-1 series deficit the way the Phillies are hitting. It especially doesn’t look good with Tim Lincecum opposing the Phillies tonight and the Phillies pitching making Cody Ross look like a Hall of Famer.

I wouldn’t want any other combination of pitchers in the league to try to do what the Phillies now need to do. But I would have felt a whole lot better with a 2-2 series after last night.

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