People are clearly upset at the way things ended for the Philadelphia Phillies. The masses are free to place blame somewhere, because the expectations were that this team was the best in the National League. So a trip to the World Series was looked at as a mere formality, even though we know that often times is not the case.
But, blame has to be put on the players who failed to perform in the series. We look at those who are guilty of falling short:
It has been well-documented just how bad he was in the NLDS. So there is really no need to rehash the sickening statistics Howard finished with. Adding injury to insult; Howard is likely to miss time next season after rupturing his achillies.
I lay some of the blame on Cliff for the Game 2 loss, but not all of it. Sure, he was given a 4-0 lead after two innings. That doesn’t mean the offense couldn’t give him a few more over the final seven. After roughing up Chris Carpenter, Phillies hitters managed just one hit the rest of the way. Not exactly backing Lee. He needed to shut down the Cardinals and did not, but that loss wasn’t completely his fault.
That very well could have been the last time we see Oswalt in a Phillies uniform, and it was not the way it should have ended. He basically made two big-time mistakes to David Freese that allowed the Cardinals to take control of Game 4. Again, the offense could have done a little more, offering just three runs on seven hits. But Oswalt can’t get away without blame. He had a chance to take down a former nemesis in St. Louis and fell short.
He completely disappeared in the playoffs, however, he was a non-factor for the better part of the 2011 campaign. Injuries played a major role in his demise this season, but that can’t be the main excuse. He simply did not perform at even an average level. His defense was good, thankfully. A 2-for-19 series is one of the reasons, albeit minor, that the Phillies did not move on.
Chooch looked worn down, and it pains me to have to blame a guy that has been golden in the postseason for so long. I’d like to say his defense was top notch and made up for his lack of offensive production, but that just was not the case. Ruiz hit .059 (1-for-17) in the five game series. Anything out of the bottom of the order would have helped. They gave nothing.
He did finish the series 6-for-19, but completely disappeared in games 2, 3, and 4, going just 1-for-12. He offered little protection for Ryan Howard, with five of those hits coming in games 1 and 5.
Turns out, he too was dealing with a sports hernia, possibly a reason for his 4-for-19 series against St. Louis. It was an uncharacteristically bad series for Pence, who seemed to be hitting the ball pretty hard at the end of the year. They REALLY needed Pence to show up, because they got him for this very reason. He struggled and the Phillies went down.
First-to-third heard ’round the world. His 2011 season will be remembered by a late start and a late slide. That one play probably didn’t lose the series, but it’ll stick out like a sore thumb. It overshadowed Utley’s 7-for-16 series with three extra-base hits, all because he needed that extra base. And maybe you can’t completely blame him; he might be subconsciously thinking he’ll be stuck at second with the hitters behind him struggling. Still, you can’t make that out and he did.
Hindsight is 20/20, but some believe it wasn’t a great idea to keep Cliff Lee in for the seventh inning in Game 2 when he was struggling. I disagree; you want your best pitcher out there at all times and Lee was their second best pitcher this year. It was also a clear mistake not pinch-hitting for Raul Ibanez in Game 4 with John Mayberry Jr. when lefty Arthur Rhodes was brought in.