Sunday, August 16, 2009

Phillies Hand Game to Braves, But Show Some Positive Signs

Yesterday, the Phillies handed a game to the Atlanta Braves that they almost surely should have won. This type of loss is especially stinging considering that simple execution on a number of occasions was likely the difference between victory and defeat. A couple glimmers of hope appeared, though, that might translate into success down the road.

After playing stellar defense that saved several runs over the first two games of the series to that point, the top defensive team in the National League let down at the most inopportune moment. Protecting a 1 run lead that should have been wider if not for squandering earlier run scoring opportunities, the Phillies fielding collapsed. With Brad Lidge on the mound in an attempt to record back-to-back saves, Chase Utley whiffed on a groundball that was ruled a hit, but a play that he makes 99 out of 100 times. Lidge himself compunded the situation by first bobbling a bunt (on which he may have potentially been able to cut down the runner at second), then throwing the ball into right field. It went in the books as a double error, allowed the tying run to score and put the winning run on third with no outs. After walking the next two batters (intentionally and semi-intentially) and striking out Ryan Church, Omar Infante bounced a weak chopper into left field for the game winner.

This was particularly painful considering that the Phillies were 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position, twice stranded runners on third with no outs and plated only one run in the 7th on a homer and two doubles. The inability to drive a flyball to the outfield or simply put balls into play kept them from providing a greater margin of error to their bullpen- and it cost them the game.

Amidst the frustration of losing, however, were a few positive signs. Until the last inning collapse, the defense continued to prove that it is integral to the team's success as Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Pedro Feliz made plays that kept runs off the board. Raul Ibanez showed signs of returning to his pre-injury form by ripping a couple doubles, the latter falling a few feet short of leaving the park. Cole Hamels battled to hold the Braves to 2 runs on 3 hits despite still not regaining his command. Lastly, although he took the loss and blew his 8th save of the season, Lidge looked more like the 2008 version. He had very good velocity and sharper break on his slider. Overall, he struck out Church with the bases loaded and the Braves did not hit the ball hard.

Lets hope these signs turn into trends, the frustrating loss is a catalyst to better execution in scratching out runs and Lidge sees the glass half full. Yesterday's game goes in the ledger as a loss, but building on the positive could lead to a good run.

No comments:

Post a Comment