Phillies Offensive Struggles Continue As Game Five ApproachesBREAKING NEWS, General News, News, Phillies Thursday, October 6th, 2011
Last week, before the National League Division Series with the Cardinals began, I wrote that the Phillies are far and away the best team in baseball and that the only team that can beat them is themselves. Well, that’s exactly what they did in Game 2, tried to do in Game 3, and did again in Game 4.
The pitching staff has been awesome. There’s not much to write home about after that. The Phils’ “potent” lineup better be counting their lucky stars for their pitchers because, outside of a few innings in the series and one Ben Francisco swing, the hitters have not picked up their end of the bargain. That’s why they find themselves in the position they are in: a do or die Game 5 on Friday night in South Philadelphia.
The biggest problem at the plate has been the Phils’ astonishing lack of patience. It just seems like every time you look up, a Phillies batter is in an 0-2 count only two pitches into the at-bat. They always seem to be fighting from behind during at-bats and swinging at bad pitches. That is a way too undisciplined approached for this time of year, especially in the shortened 5 game NLDS.
It’s all about making the pitcher work and, quite frankly, the Phillies haven’t done near a well enough job of doing so. While formidable pitchers, they have made Jaime Garcia and Edwin Jackson, the former better than the latter, look like Cy Young caliber hurlers. Garcia and especially Jackson are not good enough to lock up the Phils’ lineup the way they did. Take for example, in Game 4 the Phillies first three batters reached on base hits but the team went 4-29 the rest of the game. That’s pretty dismal. The evidence is there, the Phillies need to fix their offensive approach before Friday’s Game 5.
Speaking of Game 5, how will it go?
The most obvious talking point is the pitching matchup. Halladay vs. Carpenter is a sexy matchup that will surely garner national attention, but should it?
I feel Halladay is light years ahead of Carpenter at this point in their careers. Halladay is going to be favored against almost every pitcher he squares off against but I feel this matchup is no contest. Carpenter isn’t what he was a few years ago. Granted it was on three days rest, but we all saw what the Phillies did to Carpenter in Game 2, sending him to the showers very early. He can deny it, but that has to be in the back of Carpenter’s mind. St. Louis has worked him hard down the stretch too, including 106 pitches in their season finale in Houston. Does he have anything left in the tank? Maybe. But maybe isn’t good enough when everything is on the line.
Halladay is far and away the surer bet for Game 5. Take out Lance Berkman’s three-run dinger and Halladay was dominant in Game 1. He had the Cardinals baffled for the rest of the game. This is what Roy Halladay was brought here for: to pitch in this game. You know he’s going to deliver. Having Cliff Lee come out of the bullpen is pretty good insurance too.
This one thing is for certain: ALL the pressure is on the Phillies. They haven’t shown up for the majority of the series and now they find themselves in this situation. They should be thankful they are in this situation. If it weren’t for Ben Francisco’s pinch-hit three-run home run in Game 3, they just might be getting ready to hit a golf course much earlier than expected. What do the Phillies have to lose? Everything.
What do the Cardinals have to lose? Nothing, and that makes them extremely dangerous. They weren’t expected to be here. No one thought they would be here. They are capable of shocking the world more than they already have. They have the odds on favorites on the ropes. They will be ready.
Citizens Bank Park will be packed and rocking on Friday night. Will the Phils send the Phaithful home happy? If the offense shows up then, yes, going away. If the offense continues on this slide it could be a whole different story and the dream season could turn into a nightmare faster than a two pitch groundout.
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