For the first time in the five-year playoff run that the Phillies have been on, a series has been pushed to a decisive final game. The Phillies dropped Game 4 in a disappointing fashion on Thursday night, going down 5-3.
Early on, it looked like the Phillies might be on their way to ending the series in four games. The offense that didn’t produce a single run from their starting lineup in Game 3 got off to a fast start.
Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a shot to centerfield. Centerfielder John Jay didn’t see the ball well because of the blinding sunlight in the outfield, and the ball bounced up into the grass for a ground-rule double. Chase Utley followed Rollins with an RBI triple down the first base line. It was the third extra-base hit of the series for the second baseman. Hunter Pence then drove in Utley with an RBI single, giving the Phillies a quick 2-0 lead.
However, the Phillies would once again be disappointed by their starting pitcher. Roy Oswalt came up with a disappointing effort, allowing five runs in six innings of work. After the Phillies gave him a two-run lead, he immediately gave the Cardinals back a run in the bottom of the first inning, giving up an RBI double to Lance Berkman. Then in the fourth inning, the veteran righthander was burned by St. Louis third baseman David Freese for a two-run double to lose the lead.
Freese got to Oswalt again in the sixth inning, delivering a crushing two-run homerun to dead centerfield that gave the Cardinals a commanding 5-0 lead.
While Oswalt’s effort was poor, the effort of the offense was even worse. The bats simply closed up shop after the first inning. They managed to score another run in the eighth inning, but they needed the help of a balk and a wild pitch to do so. After collecting three hits off of Edwin Jackson in the first inning, the Phillies managed just four hits the rest of the night, including just one hit from the four through eight holes.
Slugger Ryan Howard was nowhere to be found in this game. He went 0-4 with three strikeouts, and left three runners on base. The first baseman has already played a critical role in the series with his homerun in Game 1, but its not enough for him to show up for one game.
With the exceptions of Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley (batting .563 and .462 respectively in the series, and supplying four of the seven hits tonight), the lineup has been flat for three games now. They’ll have to pull it together quickly, or this will go down as one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.
The Phillies now face a do or die situation on Friday night, when Roy Halladay will take the hill for Game 5 against Cardinal ace Chris Carpenter.
Player Of The Game: David Freese
The Cardinal third baseman came through with two huge at-bats for his team, a two-run double in the fourth inning to give St. Louis the lead, and a two-run homer in the sixth inning to create an insurmountable lead. Both hits came off of Phillies starter Roy Oswalt. Freese stepped up tonight, and his efforts are a big reason why there’s going to be a Game 5 in this series.