Weekly Wrap: Missed Opportunities

Posted by Jason Bintliff, Sun, August 30, 2009 09:42 AM | Comments: 11

Throughout the course of the year the Phillies have seen some bad stretches. This past week wasn’t their worst. It certainly wasn’t their best stretch, either.

The Phillies carried the momentum from a three game winning streak into Pittsburgh on Tuesday, hoping to improve upon that streak. Although the Pirates started and ended the series in last place in the N.L. Central, each member of their roster is playing for their 2010 big-league lives.

On Tuesday, trailing 3-2 heading into the ninth, the Phillies provided some late inning heroics as Shane Victorino tripled in Ben Francisico, the Phillies go-ahead run after the Phillies had fought to tie the game. Pitcher Matt Capps had blown his second save against the Phils this season. Strange how baseball has a way of evening things out.

In the bottom half of the frame, closer Brad Lidge faced three batters. All three touched him up for extra-base hits, capped off by game-winning two- run home run by the Pirates Andrew Mc Cutchen. Lidge had blown his ninth save of the season and left the Delaware Valley with many questions, such as, “Now what?”

Wednesday was reliever Ryan Madson’s turn to blow a game, as he allowed a ninth-inning, solo shot, allowing Pittsburgh to tie the game at one. Fortunately for the pinstripes, Ryan Howard is hitting his late season stride. Howard gave the Phillies a tenth-inning lead on a three-run bomb, and the Phillies would never look back. Although Madson got the blown save, he also recorded the win as he came back out to finish the bottom half of the inning.

On Thursday J.A. Happ pitched a solid 7.2 innings. It was the last 0.1 inning that will get you every time. After giving up a lead-off homer to McCutchen, Happ cruised through the next six innings. He looked shaky at times, but worked himself out of many jams, via the double-play. In the eight, however, with one on and two down, Happ gave up the second homer of the game for the Pirates, and the Phillies fell 3-2.

The Phillies starters looked good throughout the series, despite the late-inning homerun given up by Happ. It was the Phillies bats that went silent through the series and the Phillies struggles continued in the city of three rivers. Since it’s opening, the Phillies are now 9-13 at PNC Park.

After dropping two of three to the Pirates, the Phillies came home to take on the second-place Braves. Starting the series, the Fightin’s had a seven game lead on both the Braves and the Marlins.

Friday night in a rain soaked affair, the Phillies took the series opener, 4-2. Backed by a strong relief outing from Jamie Moyer and Ryan Howard’s two homeruns, the Phil’s extended their division lead to a season high eight games. The bats were again anemic, but the bullpen was good, giving up only two runs in eight innings of relief.

Saturday fans in Philadelphia got to witness a monumental event, Cliff Lee’s undoing. Lee gave up three Atlanta bombs and gave up six runs in five innings of work. The bullpen was equally sour as they surrendered three runs of their own in a 9-1 shellacking at the hands of the Braves. The bats were again quiet with the lone bright spot coming in the first inning off of a Chase Utley long-ball.

A recurring theme over the last three seasons has been the Phillies inability to hit with runners in scoring position. The Fightin’s tend to go through stretches, long stretches, where they lack situational hitting.

Too many times we saw runners at second and third with less than two outs and time and time again the Phillies failed to put runs across the plate. Raul Ibanez has perhaps been the biggest culprit, and has been awful at the plate since July 1st.

The two blown saves in Pittsburgh this past week prevented what should have been a sweep of the downtrodden Pirates.

The bigger problem in that series wasn’t the bullpen, so much as it was the fact that the offense managed only 10 runs throughout the series, with three of those runs coming in extra-innings.

Sure, the back end of the bullpen needs to improve, and it needs to do so quickly. However, the line-up need to stop relying on the long-ball to get things done.

The Phillies will hope to get the series win tonight, in front of a national audience. The showdown gets underway at 8pm.

Avatar of Jason Bintliff

About Jason Bintliff

Jason Bintliff has written 55 articles on Phillies Nation.

Jason Bintliff is a Phillies season ticket holder and avid fan for 28 years. He was a former free lance writer and contributor to various baseball blogs. He is also the proud son of the owner of Lena Blackburns Baseball Rubbing Mud.

  • Posts: 0 EastFallowfield

    Any week you get the biggest lead you’ve had all year, and biggest lead you’ve had in 8 years, it’s not all bad.

  • Posts: 0 karen

    The Phillies tend to only score through home runs. Granted sometimes they do score other ways but it is almost certain that runners will be left on base. Also, I tend to blame the loss on Thursday on the lack of trust in the ability of the pen to hold a lead. Most everyone knows how much I love Happ but he is a rookie with his innings pitched increasing and he was at a pitch count of over 100 in that 8th inning. A manager should be able to turn it over to the pen and feel confident in the pen’s ability to hold the lead. Perhaps Happ was tired or he just threw one bad pitch……that game was crushing.

    Matt Stairs is a guy who is more of a legend than a solid baseball player. Why did he get a start in the outfield in Pittsburgh? When is the last time he had a hit? They called up Cairo from Lehigh Valley when Dobbs went on the DL. Despite his crappyness early in the season, Cairo has been solidly good in Lehigh Valley with about a .300 average. He gets called up and has not left the bench. Use him as an option instead of relying on the same old people over and over. Ben Francisco has limited playing time and he definately has promise if he would get some solid at bats.

    I respect the dedication and trust that Charlie has for his team. It is great to allow the players to feel confident. But what about the confidence of the entire team? How confident can anyone feel when Lidge is running into the game in the 9th? How confident would Cairo feel if he would have to pinch hit in a crucial part of a game after he sat on the bench for a month? How confident can the Phillies fans feel in the ability of their beloved team to repeat?

  • Posts: 0 Brian of CO

    “How confident can the Phillies fans feel in the ability of their beloved team to repeat?” You are basing this on one really bad week. So quickly we forget the 12 straight wins earlier, or the 18 out of 20, or tha fact that we still have a 7 game lead. I was just doing to post that the only good thing about this week is the fact that we still have a 7 game lead, but wow, then I saw that post, and had to remind myself that we are still 7 games up, lead the league in runs scored, have the 2nd best winning% by about .004 points or so, and what are we now, 21 games OVER .500. Damn. True this has been a horrible week, but you do realize that the Phillies had 3 straight winning months in May, June and July, not sure about August honestly, but they didnt even do that last year in 08. What happened in 08 again. Chill.

  • Posts: 49 Jason Bintliff

    Avatar of Jason Bintliff

    Although everything you say is valid, you can’t come out of the week without a couple of questions. Plus, the problems, while may not be significant enough to cost us a chance at the post season, will undoubtably cost us IN the postseason.

  • Posts: 0 karen

    I am not blaming this on one week or weekend. You can look back to various points within the season that the same exact concerns were raised. A team who relies almost exclusively on hitting home runs will have a serious problem winning in post season. St. Louis is strong, Yankees are strong, Angels are strong, Dodgers are iffy

  • Posts: 0 Repeat!

    Karen wins……….. The Phils O is oftened compared to that of the Yanks… The homerun totals are similar, and the gap in total runs scored isn’t all that signif… But a closer look tells the truth…. Phils hitters strike out less often than only ten other teams in MLB… Yankee hitters strike out less than 26 other MLB teams(I know the Al has a dh, butcome on). More balls put in play= more chances for productive outs…and more chances for the opp to make defensive errors… It’s not rocket science. The Phils will win 9-2 on a day that they hit 4 homers,despite going 2-10 with RISP. But they’ll loose the next nite 3-2 by going 0-7 with RISP on a day they hit only 1 or 2 home runs… The solution? Easy… more hit and run(they never do that)….more sac bunts…more aggressive base running… couple of squeezes…. More agrres…base running would make fielders be out of postition when they cover 2nd/3rd base…. Or 1b baseman trying to keep a runner close to the bag…. That would create more wholes for the ball to squirt through…..If they can only stop popping it up….J-Roll/Felix really need to start going the other way more… Same for Utley as well. It seems he never goes the other way….J-Roll/ Utley would have a lot better chances of beating out a ground ball hit to SS or 3rd than GBs hit to second base…

  • Posts: 0 karen

    Hey, trust me…..I do not want to win. I want to go to my second parade down Broad Streer this November. I love the Phillies and I love (most of) the players. I am a passionate fan but am a bit worried that the other teams may be stronger overall.

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    We either tighten up the bull pen or have to improve our RISP numbers to beat the other clubs into submission. Preferably the first, however I think the management sat to long to do this. The later wouldn’t be an issue if this team could small ball it but I fear if the players haven’t figured this out and as they police themselves, this won’t happen this year. Perhaps another acquistion, a Jamie Carroll ultility type could provide this type of play of the bench.

  • Posts: 0 mikeB

    The Phillies offense has to get going and turn things around heading into September. Not only Ibanez but Jason Werth has been cold at the plate again lately right after all that printed hoopla about him developing into a respected top notch outfielder.

  • Posts: 0 SpankyYankee

    T-mac AKA “num nuts from NY” made me laugh the other night when he made a comment that J -Rol had just his gotten 3rd -3 hit night of the season….wow only took him how many games ….127….then you look at a real shortstop oh lets say Derek Jeter….the last 18 games he had 3 hit games 7 times…..SEVEN…..TIMES…..so Tmac J-Rol will never be a Jeter…and yourself nothing but Num Nut in booth with 2 other idiots….Wheels ever play pro ball …ah no….he reads alot ….Sarge doesn’t read alot he can’t finish a sentence…why read ….but he was a pro….sorta :}

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    SpankyYankee- you better hope the Red Sox make the wild card cause without them to beat the Angels you done esp. with your ace’s propensity to choke in the post-season

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