The Astros out-small ball the Phillies to take command of the series and their destiny in a 2-1 win last night. The Phils fall to 1.5 games back in the Wild Card.
Isn’t it amazing how these games in September have changed? How attention to detail is the vital factor? How outmatched the Phillies have been trying to compete under the magnifying glass?
Pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett's two stolen bases in the ninth inning off Billy Wagner and Todd Pratt allowed Jason Lane to drive in the go-ahead run from third, lifting the Astros to a 2-1 win.
Basically, the game was decided when the Astros said so.
Meanwhile, our guys picked the wrong time to play poor fundamental baseball and have yet to dictate anything in their home park.
With no outs and the game tied 1-1 in the eighth, Jimmy Rollins stumbled around first on what was sure to be a double, possibly a triple. Rollins never crossed home, as the Phillies worked the bases full but couldn’t score him.
It’s one of many blunders in a growing list of on-the-field and on-the-fly mistakes the Phils have made when they can least afford it. The opposition has better pitching, and apparently, better hitting, so they must be creative in other ways. That means dropping down bunts, hitting the bag in stride, etc.
Ryan Howard is the team’s lone contributor these days, connecting on yet another opposite field shot in the fifth off Roy Oswalt. In the past week, Howard has tagged some of the best in baseball - Pedro Martinez, Braden Looper, Chad Cordero and now Oswalt. Meanwhile, the veteran core – Abreu, Burrell, Rollins, Bell - have yet to make a mark, and Chase Utley, the star of mid-season, is fading fast.
If a team can’t pitch and can’t hit, they must be creative the way the Astros were in the ninth. Details count. Details win games, win championships. Last night was a lesson in base running and how to defend against it, and the Phils are taking this class at the remedial level.