The Rays had 3 chances with runners on third and one out and plated them all - with 2 groundouts and a bunt. The Phils had as many similar opportunities and struck out every time. That’s a 3-run swing in a 2-run game. It’s not like the Phightins aren’t getting runners on base. They just aren’t bringing them home.
At the beginning of the Series, Phans would have been happy to leave Tampa Bay with a split. So, given our record-breaking PHutility with men on base, we should be relieved that we got one victory. Time to head north and say goodbye to baseball with white ceilings, green carpets, catwalks and cowbells to a beautiful ballpark - with a big dark sky, real green grass, some wind and weather, and crazy phans who hope to will those runners home and cheer their team to victory.
Game 2 notes:
1. Tim is so clever: Fox analyst and ex-Phillie catcher Tim Mc Carver borrowed a football analogy and said the Phils are having “trouble in the Red Zone” - meaning, they are moving the ball, but not scoring. The Phils are an incredible 1 for 27 with RISP - an .037 batting average. This is like a football team running up 500 yards and never getting into the end zone.
2. Asterisk - the one hit (in 27 at bats) that our Phightins did manage to get with RISP did not even score a run! - just moved one over - to third base of course, to stay there.
3. Introducing a new statistic: the no-score. Since we can’t score runners coming home from third with less than two outs, let’s count the ones that didn’t and call them no-scores - you know, coulda shoulda woulda runs. So far the Phils are out-bungling Tampa 7-1 in no-scores.
4. Execution, execution, execution. I’m reminded of legendary football coach John Mc Kay’s quote: when asked what he thought of his teams execution, he replied, “I’m all for it.”
5. Dare Dare Double Dare - against lefty hitters Utley and Howard, the Rays shift all their infielders to the left side - leaving the right side wide open - for what you think would be an easy hit. Not so dumb after all: By teasing our big hitters to change their swing, they are neutralizing their power.
6. Where’s the outrage? - Where was Boss Charlie on those two really bad (and confirmed incorrect by replay) calls by the home plate umpire that gave the Rays one run and may have cost the Phils another? Questionable calls on a bad night are a perfect set-up for an old fashioned in-your-face, dirt-kicking rhubarb. He should have got himself tossed to try to get his hitters fired up. It’s called starting a fight to light a match under your team. (See Shane Victorino, game 3, NLCS)
7. A Werthless night?: Right Fielder Jayson Werth had a weird night. He gave the Rays the chance to score two runs in the first with his first error of the year, left a runner on third with an ugly stirkeout, got picked off first to kill another rally, and managed to get a run home in the ninth by actually hitting a hard ground ball - ruled an error, so he got no RBI. The official scorer might have been a bit harsh but the Phils had such a string of futility going, no reason to give any of them the benefit of the doubt at that point.
Well, its on to Philly - home of the tortured and crazy PHans who love their team and know their baseball. Too many more runners left stranded on third base and it won’t be cowbell noise our boys hear on the way back to the dugout…….On the other hand, if and when our boys finally do manage to score a runner from third the way you are supposed to, expect a huge towel-waving eruption from the crowd. Call it a mock cheer if you want, but its more a huge sigh of relief………and the return of hope.