Last night left a bad taste in your mouth, the taste that lingers for a couple days until one day you realize it’s gone and say to yourself, “Oh, the Phils lost the World Series. Crap.”
The offense was just brutal, stranding dozens of runners on base and coming up wildly short in every situation. Charlie Manuel:
“That might be one of our sloppiest games all year. I’m concerned about us hitting with guys on base, because it looks like at times we might be trying a little too hard. But we can fix that.”
For the most part, I saw guys trying to do everything with one swing. They were waving at the ball as if Tropicana Field’s fence was 10 feet away. Jayson Werth was trying to pull pitches very low and inside; Pat Burrell was trying to find low junk; Ryan Howard was guessing on the low-away stuff. Then there’s Jimmy Rollins, who just plain sucked.
I am confident that the Phils can change this. They have before, and they have to now. This isn’t mid-June, where they can stir around for a week and wait for the offense to return. This is late October, the final five games of the season, the biggest stage in the game. Something tells me they’ll sense the moment and attack correctly.
But first thing’s first — Manuel has to make some changes. Move Victorino back to the two-hole. For good. Don’t be afraid to throw a guy like Matt Stairs out there in a big RBI situation. Play to win. Don’t play to keep things close.
As I wrote yesterday, the conservative approach worked in game one because both teams were jumpy. But in game two, the Rays played assured baseball — James Shields, while not as good as his ridiculous nickname may suggest — worked out of jams with confidence. Their offense worked around the kinks with aggression and speed. The Phils just had stars in their eyes. No situational hitting, no small ball, no chance.