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Clutch Hitting Must Improve

Despite the win, the Phillies went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position last night. Shane Victorino had this response:

“OK, we were 0-fer, but we still scored a damn run. So take that 0-fer and shove it up your ass. … So we still manufactured a run. We don’t have to get a hit to score a run. That’s what I meant.”

Yeah, you don’t have to get a hit, Shane, but it helps. It really, really helps.

Look, they won. The pitching was spectacular. But to win consistently, you have to drive in runs in key spots. Ryan Howard struck out three times; Jimmy Rollins was 0-for-5; Pat Burrell couldn’t buy a bucket.

To us, it seemed pretty logical — Howard swung freely at low-and-away breaking pitches. These are the same pitches the Dodgers used to disable his bat, and still, Howard fell victim. He has to — repeat after me — take every pitch. Seriously, Ryan, take every pitch. Walk. At some point they’ll have to throw you something in the zone.

Then there’s Rollins, who looked too excited. He was waving at high fastballs as if he was 250 pounds. I’m thinking he’ll calm down and start hitting against James Shields, but if not, that’s more trouble than Howard being erased.

Burrell, meanwhile, was fooled repeatedly by pitches low in the zone. He swung over top of everything, especially inside stuff. Kazmir, a great locator, had Burrell wrong the whole night. Again, this is something I think will turn around, but Burrell needs to be more patient, as he was in his final at bat.

One more point: Chris Coste was overmatched out there. I do think a veteran like So Taguchi would’ve been the smarter play at DH last night. I would assume tonight Greg Dobbs gets the start, canceling out any controversy. But Coste didn’t work at all.

Clutch hitting is deftly important in the postseason. Yes, the Phillies could’ve won 6-2, or 8-2, or whatever. This time they didn’t. Next time they’ll have to put them across when given opportunities, or else the opportunities will shrink pretty quickly.

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