Oct 212010

October 21:

Phillies news and stories from around the web…

NLCS Game 4 highlights (or lowlights):

It was a typical three-run outing for Phillies’ Blanton

October 21 Philadelphia Daily News:

“For all of the hand-wringing consternation concerning the importance of Game 4 and its starter, a predictably unremarkable performance made the worry seem wasted.

Joe Blanton supplied a Blantonian effort. He pitched 4 2/3 innings. He allowed three runs. He left with a 4-3 lead and a runner on first base, then watched his teammates turn into the Cincinnati Reds of 2 weeks ago.

The debate centered on whether workhorse Roy Halladay should start on 3 days’ rest, possibly to be followed, also on short rest, by Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. The Phillies decided that Blanton, pitching on 17 days’ rest, 3 weeks removed from his last start, was the better option in the big picture.

“I felt fine [despite the layoff],”Blanton said. “I wouldn’t say I felt 100 percent sharp. I felt like I gave a couple of runs away. Especially the last one.”

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Manuel says lower the bar for this Phillies offense

October 21 Philadelphia Daily News:

“The way Charlie Manuel sees it, some of the puzzlement surrounding the state of the Phillies’ offense could be solved with a simple lowering of expectations. Don’t get him wrong. He wants to fix it. And, he says, he believes that it can be fixed. But he also admits their current offensive woes really aren’t all that unusual.

“Basically, what do I see that you don’t see? You see our hitting from 2 years ago. I see our hitting today,” Manuel said yesterday, before the start of Game 4 between the Phillies and the Giants at AT & T Park. “Does that make sense? You follow that? You see the numbers. You see the homers. I haven’t been seeing those today. Really, our offense is down. And I’m not talking about one guy. Our offense basically is down. And reasons? I guess that happens sometimes. But when I get right down on it and I find out the reason, I’m going to try to correct it because I want our guys to hit just like they used to.”

Manuel has spent the majority of the season looking for the cure. In late July, he fired hitting coach Milt Thompson and replaced him with Greg Gross. At the end of an injury-plagued regular season, Manuel expressed hope that the return of his Opening Day lineup would usher in renewed offensive success. At the start of the postseason, he admitted to having called far more team meetings than usual.

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Phillies mistakes are adding up to losses

October 21 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Sam Donnellon:

“They won these games once. They took advantage of a little thing here, a little thing there, reversed imminent victories for the other team into series-altering losses.

Not anymore. They are that other team now. After last night’s 6-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants put them in a 3-1 hole in the National League Championship Series, it’s official.

The Phillies run themselves into outs. They muff doubleplay ground balls, double-clutch on throws to the plate, watch third strikes pass by with runners in scoring position.

They tie the game, get a runner on second in the eighth inning with no outs last night, have their speedy shortstop at the plate, and don’t bunt the runner over.

Jimmy Rollins is picked off in the second inning with his team down by a run.

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Halladay knows what he has to do in rematch with Lincecum

October 21 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Rich Hofmann:

“Call it the price of greatness, or of the greatest expectations, but all eyes are on Roy Halladay now.

It would have been a fantasy to believe that the Phillies could win the National League Championship Series if they were to lose both of the games started by Halladay. Now, we know it is not only a fantasy, but an impossibility. Elimination looms for the Phillies after last night’s 6-5 loss to the Giants. Trailing by 3-1 in the series, they win today with Halladay on the mound or they regret together forever.

Round 2 of the great pitching matchup, Halladay vs. the Giants’ Tim Lincecum, carries implications far beyond a single evening. And if the perfect game and the no-hitter and the contagious work ethic and the outrageous professionalism will always mark Halladay’s inaugural season with the Phillies as special, the outcome in this next game also will be a prominent topic of historical discussion – especially if it were to go badly.

No pressure, though.

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Oswalt offered up his services for relief effort

October 21 Philadelphia Daily News:

“Kyle Kendrick?

Not when it mattered.

With only Kendrick, flailing lefty J.C. Romero and closer Brad Lidge left in his bullpen, Charlie Manuel instead chose Door No. 3.

He pressed starter Roy Oswalt into service last night.

“I decided about the eighth inning,” the Phillies manager said.

Sort of.

Actually, Oswalt pressed himself into service. Oswalt ran into the clubhouse and switched into his spikes when the Phillies tied the game in the eighth. He then informed pitching coach Rich Dubee that, even having gone eight innings in Game 2 on Sunday and due to start in Game 6 on Saturday, he could pitch an inning.

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Giants’ walkoff win pushes Phillies to brink of elimination

October 21 Philadelphia Daily News:

“It is hat-hanging time, and here is the peg on which the Phillies now depend: In the 1996 National League Championship Series, the Braves lost a tight Game 4 behind No. 4 starter Denny Neagle to fall into a three-games-to-one hole against the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite possessing the best rotation in baseball, Atlanta found itself hamstrung by a lackluster offense that had mustered only 12 runs. To advance to their second straight World Series, they needed three consecutive victories by their top three starters.

And, lo and behold, that is exactly what they got: first John Smoltz, then Greg Maddux, then, in Game 7, lefty Tom Glavine.

Fourteen years later, the Phillies only hope is to repeat history.

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Oswalt’s relief appearance backfires for Phillies

October 21 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Paul Hagen:

“For most of this postseason, the bulk of the Phillies’ relievers have had a pretty sweet deal. They come to the ballpark. They sit in the bullpen. And as long as Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt or Cole Hamels was starting, they figured there was a good chance their role was going to be limited to cheering the team on.

Game 4 last night at AT & T Park was different. Joe Blanton was starting. Not only that, but making his first start since Sept. 29. There was no real way of knowing how sharp he might be. The bullpen would have to be on its toes.

But nobody could have anticipated quite how this would all play out. Charlie Manuel ended up going to his bullpen five times. The last occasion was for a special guest appearance from starter Roy Oswalt, which didn’t work out exactly as planned. He gave up the run in the bottom of the ninth that lifted the Giants to a 6-5 win that gave them a commanding lead of three games to one in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.

The wheels were set in motion long before that, though.

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Rangers exec thinks Phillies are role-model franchise

October 21 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Chuck Greenberg, managing partner and chief executive officer of the Texas Rangers, says the Phillies are one of the teams he hopes his franchise can emulate.

Greenberg’s group, Rangers Baseball Express, won the right to purchase the team on Aug. 5 and was approved by Major League Baseball a week later.

“Three of the great role models are the Red Sox, the Angels, and the Phillies, with no disrespect to the other clubs,” Greenberg said Wednesday. “You look at the three of them, and 10 years ago they were dramatically different franchises.”

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Phillies aces find hard going against Giants

October 21 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“In his first season in the National League, Roy Halladay didn’t have much difficulty figuring out opposing hitters, and it’s likely he’ll have a Cy Young Award to prove it.

Yet, there are always exceptions in the wacky game of baseball. In Halladay’s case, the exception has been the San Francisco Giants, the club that just so happens to be standing in the way of the Phillies’ quest for a third consecutive World Series appearance.

Halladay will get another opportunity to get a handle on the Giants when he and Tim Lincecum match up again Thursday night in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. Lincecum took Round 1 of the duel between the game’s two top righthanders, 4-3, in the series opener.

Halladay is 0-2 with a 7.23 ERA against the Giants this season, including the playoffs, surprising because San Francisco’s lineup is far from intimidating. The Giants have roughed him up for 18 hits in 14 innings.

Click here for complete article…


Does disaster loom for this series?

October 21 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“The good news is that all those tectonic plates under San Francisco have been stiller than the Phillies’ bats this week.

The bad news is that, according to the ill-timed documentary on the History Channel shown early Wednesday morning, when a lot of jet-lagged East Coasters were wide awake, it’s only a matter of time before this city experiences – and I quote – “the inevitable mega-disaster.”

There was no indication whether by “matter of time” the mega-disaster predictors were thinking this postseason, but let’s face it, baseball, bunting, and building collapses converged here in a previous October.

The show’s producers further unnerved visitors by creating simulations that proved most of the city’s tall buildings, much like the New York Mets, would collapse at the slightest tremble.

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Phillies have all but wasted away

October 21 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist John Gonzalez:

“ESPN recently ran Four Days in October as part of its excellent 30 for 30 series. The film told the story of the 2004 Red Sox and their improbable, historic comeback. After being down three games to none against the hated Yankees, Boston went on to win the American League Championship Series.

The documentary opened on the field before Game 4 with former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar and Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy arguing about the writer calling the team “a pack of frauds.” The two exchanged words.

DS: “It’s embarrassing, man.”

KM: “What’s embarrassing?”

DS: “You guys are better than this.”

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Bad start, bad finish, bad situation

October 21 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Bob Ford:

“A good sign that a baseball game has gone through the looking glass is when a starter is finishing a game he didn’t start.

That happened Wednesday night with the Phillies in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series in a 6-5 loss to the Giants that had neither a good start nor a good finish.

The Phils didn’t get the innings they needed out of Joe Blanton, went deep and unsuccessfully into their bullpen, and then turned to Roy Oswalt, who is scheduled to start Game 6, for a stopgap inning. It didn’t turn out to be a full inning, and it didn’t stop the Giants.

Whether it also messed up Oswalt for his regular turn is unknown. It could be moot conjecture if the Phillies don’t win Thursday, as they send Roy Halladay to the mound. One more loss and their hope of reaching the World Series for a third straight season will be gone.

“If we like playing with our backs to the wall, we’re standing right there now,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “If we want to have our backs to the wall, I think we’re going to get that chance.”

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