Typically potent, the bats unexpectedly fell silent against an unheralded Rockies’ pitching staff during National League Division series. Why?
Charlie Manuel: "We hit good pitching. Colorado had two pitchers, (Franklin) Morales and (Ubaldo) Jimenez, who are young, throw hard, and are just a little bit wild, and I think we wanted them too much.
"When the playoffs started, our team was coming to the ballpark so early, I couldn’t believe it. I go to the ballpark every day early, and I guess I was kind of up into it [too], but for day games, we were getting there about 9 o’clock. For the night games - the last game we played in Colorado - they got there at 11:30. That’s way early. They already went down to the cage and did drills and you look up and it’s 1 o’clock and you still have five hours until the game starts at 6.
"I think we got too strung out – too up into it – and once it started, we probably pressed a little bit. Our main guys didn’t hit. Through the season, that never happened to us. Someone in the middle of the lineup always came through."
Beerleaguer take: When you talk about the importance of having players with playoff experience, here’s your proof. Even though they lost to another post-season newcomer in Colorado, it sounds like the high-energy, high-motor qualities of the offense worked against them this series. As Manuel said, they got “too up into it,” and even Manuel admitted he was wrapped up in the moment and didn't realize what what happening. It's also a valid point that the Phils tend to struggle against unpredictable pitchers with heat, particularly left-handers like Morales and Jiminez. As Manuel said, the Phillies hit good pitching.
(This is the fourth in a series of small reports from Thursday’s Winter Tour in Reading.)