Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NLCS Games 2-4

- Pedro Martinez and Vicente Padilla were both great in their respective starts. I wasn't real sure what to expect out of either.

- Chase Utley's defense cost the Phillies runs in three straight games, but is ultimately nothing to worry about. He's too good a player and too hard a worker to expect that to continue. The shame of losing game two was that the Phils could have returned home up 2-0 and would have had brooms on the mind.

- Just as damaging to the Phils cause was Ronnie Belliard's bunt that wasn't fielded. The Dodgers effectively got five outs from the Phillies, and scored just enough to win.

- Aside from all that, you can't expect to win when you score one run

- J.A. Happ continued to look scared in game two

- Game three was a classic 'somebody got to pay' game, with the Phils not amused by having their former teammate Padilla shove it to them. Hiroki Kuroda, nothing personal, it was just your turn.

- Find me a trade deadline deal in recent years with as much playoff impact as the Cliff Lee deal. Lee has been untouchable for the Phillies, while the Dodgers thought they had a deal done for him, and didn't end up with him. Think about how this series, the whole second half even, would be different if the Dodgers got Lee instead of the Phillies.

- And humor me a bit and assume that in the scenario above, the Phillies still didn't get Roy Halladay

- I wonder what Roy Halladay thinks when he watches the Phillies in the playoffs these days

- Manny Ramirez made a nice running grab in the eighth inning of game four, temporarily keeping the Dodgers in the lead. I guess that made up for the play in the sixth when Shane Victorino hit a ball into the leftfield corner and Manny loafed after it, then missed the cut off man, allowing Victorino to easily stride into third with a leftfield triple. I don't care how fast the runner is, THAT should never happen, save a ridiculous outfield overshift.

- Jonathan Broxton = Dennis Eckersley. Prior to game four, there had only been two walkoff extra base hits to win a playoff game when the hitting team had two outs and was trailing. One was Cookie Lavagetto in the 1947 World Series (ruining Bill Bevens no-hitter), and the other was Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit home run off of Eckersley in game one of the 1988 World Series. I think I've seen that play once or twice. In post game interviews, Broxton had that same stunned, vacant stare that Eck had after giving up the homer to Gibson.

- If you're Broxton and you throw 100 mph consistently, what are you doing nibbling around with Matt Stairs? I know he took you out 800 feet last year, but Stairs is done, and even the best pitchers get taken really deep every once in awhile. That's not showing the ability to quickly forget about bad pitches that a dominant closer needs, especially this time of year.

- Lost in all the hysteria over the way the Phillies won the game was the fact that Brad Lidge looked really, really good in his appearance. He blew away Matt Kemp and then froze Andre Ethier with a good tight slider to end the top of the ninth. The game was Lidge's first win of the year, regular season or playoffs.

- Once again, Eric Bruntlett finds himself right in the middle of Phillies history. Two game-winning runs in last year's World Series, an unassisted triple play, now he scores as the front half of the dramatic ending to 2009 NLCS Game Four. It's either a knack for being at the right place at the right time or dumb luck, but either way, big ups to Bruntlett.

- THAT boys and girls, is what I'm talking about when I illustrate the differences between the Phillies and the Mets. Or, as Mitch Williams said on the pre-pre-game show on the radio before game four, the Mets are the kid in high school that talks about beating people up, the Phillies are the team that actually beats people up.

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