The Phillies have had more hits and better pitching during the first two games. Unfortunately, they’ve made bigger mistakes.
There’s debate over the quality of Brett Myers’ start. I fall in line with those who believe Myers pitched just fine. Consider the quality of the Rays’ offense, playing at home where they have the best record in baseball, Jayson Werth's error in right, the lousy effort at the dish and certainly the incompetent officiating. The game could have unraveled into a real mess, but to his credit, Myers changed it up and settled down. Myers went seven innings, allowing three earned, which could have easily been less because of the officiating gaff. Tampa scored three of their runs without the ball leaving the infield. Afterward, Myers credited Carlos Ruiz changing strategies and calling a good game.
Ruiz, by the way, came to play this series.
The problem of course is that no one else has. I keep going back to rust, because it’s obvious to this observer that someone like Jimmy Rollins, for example, isn’t in sync. His swings are long. He’s behind high heat. He hasn’t connected for a hit, but more importantly, he’s not on base to create something. He reached on a fielder’s choice yesterday, the first time he's reached base, and it was followed by a Werth single. That potental rally was murdered by Werth’s base-running gaff, the second of two killer mistakes by the Phillies right fielder.
The official tally of offensive ineptitude goes one-out, second-and-third in the second. Nothing. That one featured perhaps the worst at bat of the night in Greg Dobbs taking three strikes without swinging the bat in a situation where a walk actually hurts because it puts the double play in order. You’re the DH. Swing the damn bat. Then Ruiz leads off with a double in the third. Jack squat. First-and-third, one out in the fourth. Zippo. First-and-third with two outs in the sixth. Nada. Pedro Feliz represented the final out in three of these innings, stranding six. He actually ended the eighth as well.
Additional thoughts: Howard's 2-5, 1 K, 3 LOB night has to be the most celebrated mediocre night in history if you watch these postgame shows. His double was a pitch up a little and the other had eyes and beat the shift. ... The dirty little secret about Werth is that his glove is wildly overrated, as we saw tonight. Sometimes, Werth can look awfully raw; he now has 16 strikeouts in the postseason. ... People are jumping on Kerwin Danley, and rightfully so. In a World Series, you can’t be that incompetent. He rang up Baldelli, who clearly offered. And Danley clearly called it. Then he lied about not calling it. Then, the blunder is compounded by the first-base ump, who also makes the wrong call. Keystone Cops, these clowns.
Nevertheless, to revisit the headline, as ugly as it's been, the Phils have set the pace and return home with the series tied tomorrow night, weather permitting.