I’ve been fighting migraines for over the last four days. My study session into early monday morning didn’t help things either. Monday night I hoped to take relief in the form of a Phillies win since Tylonel wasn’t getting the job done. Unfortunately , the Phillies didn’t either.
The fallout after the game featured the often heard gripes about this team : men left on base, the lack of both the bullpen and non-clutch performances from the usual suspects. Throughout the entire season these three themes seem to be reoccurring complaints from fans and for good reason.
Last night, the Astros gave the Phillies every chance to take control of the game. All of the Phillies runs came with two outs in the inning. Their lack of starting the bats early when lead off guys numbers where called made the two out rally their only real chance to capitalize in the game.
In the 4th, the team overcame two quick outs to load the bags up for Lieby. The result? A pop fly 10 feet behind the home plate. The following inning with the Phils now trailing 1-0, again with two outs and the bases full, Ryan Howard connected on a hard hit 2-run single to give the Phillies their first lead in the game. With Howard now standing on first and Chase Utley at third , Jeff Conine walked on 5 pitches to load ’em up again this time for Pat Burrell.
The fans erupted and got behind Burrell as he walked up to the dish. To date, I think it was the loudest ovation he has received since the charity applauses by fans during his Mario Mendoza season when he batted .209 in ’03. Once again it was another classic Burrell moment. He popped up to shallow center where boos rained down on to the field before the ball was even caught by Willie Taverez to retire the inning.
Another downfall in the game came in the 7th when the Astros throw up a 3 spot that proved to be the game winner. Credit must be given to the Astros hitters for their poise and patience at the plate. Home plate umpire Marvin Hudson wasn’t calling the corners at all for either teams and Houston let anything and everything they thought was outside just sail on by. Matt Smith , who painted the corners with sliders during most of his 3 batter appearance, was simply not getting the calls he may normally get with another person calling balls and strikes.
This isn’t an excuse by any means. The umpire didn’t lose the game for the Phillies. Men left on base and the Phillies only registering one base runner (a Burrell walk) after JRoll’s home run in the 6th inning proved to be fatal.
Tonight, the Phils are in Washington to start the most important six game road stretch in recent Phillies history. The Ace , Brett Myers, takes the hill for the Phillies who is 4-0 in his last six stars (4-2 team record). They are opposed by Ramon Ortiz who was jacked up by the Phillies in his last two starts against him on August 19th and 30th. Combined he is 0-2 in those starts, surrendering 11 earned runs on 10 hits.
Conventional wisdom and trend would suggest that the Phillies are victorious tonight. But, I am a true believer that history is the beacon of the past which guides our future. I hope after last night the Phils recieved a gut check with that loss. They better come out tonight , take care of buisness and rewrite history to show that the 2006 Phillies aren’t the same choke artists in September as the teams in the past were.