Now, Roy Halladay must save the season.
The dream rotation. An intact offense. The best record in baseball. Frankly, you wouldn't know it from this series, which has been pedestrian at best for the Phillies overall. Now, they find themselves in unfamiliar territory with Friday's winner-take-all, where the Cardinals have nothing to lose while the Phillies stand to lose everything.
Let's start with the pitching, where Roy Oswalt joined stablemate Cliff Lee in Dudsville and was done after 82 pitches. Of the four aces, two stunk. Should the Phillies advance, the prospect of starting Oswalt again seems dubious at best. Obviously, over the course of a 162-game season, the advantage of having a stellar pitching staff manifested to the game's best record, but in this best-of-five, the lines have blurred. Actually, the real stars might be the maligned Cardinals bullpen, which chipped in a couple of good innings again tonight.
As bad as Oswalt was, I cursed the bats almost as much as I cursed Yadier Molina when he conferenced with his pitcher for the 100th time. Jimmy Rollins complained when the fans fell silent in Game 2, which was the precise time the Cards hushed the 3-through-6 hitters of the Phillies, who have not had an extra base hit since Game 1. Tonight, their 4-through-6 went 0-for-12 despite the favorable matchup against right-hander Edwin Jackson (6 IP, 2 ER), which also spoiled a relatively decent effort by the table-setters - Rollins, Chase Utley and Hunter Pence - who got after it like gangbusters with two runs in the first. Utley's aggressive baserunning in the sixth backfired, but I liked the idea and respect Utley's baserunning immensely. Nevertheless, that was one of their only shots after losing the lead.
The Phillies get one more. Time for Doc to deliver in the game of his life.