So I saw the comment on last night’s post by Jakesg regarding the Phillies and strikeouts, and it totally sums up how I feel about the Phillies lineup. This is something I recall my dad saying last year and I often try to advance this point but usually people like to shoot it down. It is the fact that the Phillies seem to look for too many walks. They look and look and look. The 3-4-5 guys in the Phillies lineup – who will remain nameless – are always looking for walks. Well fellas, you don’t get paid to walk. Oh, but you say, Brian, walks are good, they aren’t outs, they increase your OBP, it’s the Moneyball way. Well you know what, that’s total crap. Stop looking at pitches and start swing the bats. You get paid to crush base hits and drive runners in and not saunter down to first by looking for walks. I hate having to keep saying this because it leads to other things; namely, Jakesg’s comment that when you keep the bat on your shoulder, if you don’t walk you strikeout.
And that’s where we are this week as the Wild Card starts to slip away. In the last 7 games, the Phillies have racked up 62 strikeouts. This includes 14 strikeouts in the 12-inning game on Saturday and no less than 7 in any one game. If that number wasn’t troubling enough, I can’t even count (well, I could, but I don’t want to) how many of those were in clutch situations – how many of those could have won the game. It’s one thing for Jimmy Rollins to strikeout as the opening batter, but to do it as the final batter – as he did tonight – is unacceptable. Tonight, every stater in the lineup recorded a strikeout. Bobby Abreu, Chase Utley, Kenny Lofton, not to mention ole reliables JRoll, Burrell and Howard have all caught the bug. It’s borderline absurd and will surely cost the Phillies a playoff berth if it continues.
Hey, but that’s not all, I’m not done yet. Another player that I have always respected has become a huge liability for the club and I contend he single-handedly cost the Phils two games this week…and he’s not even an everyday starter! That man is Todd Pratt. Let’s go back to the top of the ninth with a runner on first, 1 out I believe. Everyone knows it is a steal situation. Billy Wagner throws over a couple of times to keep Eric Bruntlett honest. He of course runs, the pitch is high and wide – essentially a pitch out – and what does Todd Pratt do, he craps his pants, triple pumps then chucks a terribly wide throw down to second. Two pitches later, the same thing, Pratt sees the runner go, clutches, craps down the other leg, then decides not to throw. Of course the batter who was down 0-2 and has since battled back, knocks a base hit into left, scoring the game winning run. A pinch runner comes in for that guy, who subsequently steals second but is thrown out at third to a chorus of Bronx cheers. Whoopdee-friggin-do!
Pratt does try to redeem himself in the bottom of the ninth by knocking a single off Brandon Lidge – literally. So Manuel finally takes the corn cob pipe from out of his ear and uses Endy Chavez in the role he was meant for: as a pinch runner for Tank. Endy steals second as he should, but it doesn’t matter because JRoll strikes out, albeit swinging, to end the game.
For the third time in four days, the Phils lose a one-run game, each occasion leaving a game-tying run in scoring position. So there you go, 3rd place in the Wild Card 1.5 games back. Houston came to town and ripped the Wild Card lead right from the Phillies and kicking them in the pants on the way out the door. Finally, the Fightins’ face someone other than the Astros’ big 3 for the first time this year and hopefully can avoid the sweep and a revival of the Marlins freakout of 2003.
You know what the worst part is? It’s that every night, I have to share the MLB extra innings with my Red Sox fan of a roommate and usually the games seem to parallel each other – very tightly contested. But of course, as they did tonight on a David Ortiz walk-off homer, the Red Sox find a way to win. That’s the difference, the Phillies find a way to lose. Go Phils.