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Maybe the Phils just aren't that good
Before Game 2, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel all but said that his offense was overrated.
“I think sometimes when people talk about our offense, they’re talking about two or three years ago,” Manuel told the FOX broadcasters. “I don’t think they’re up to date.”
Manuel is correct — the Phillies scored 772 runs in the regular season, 48 fewer than in 2009, 120 fewer than in ’07.
That, folks, is the issue — not Manuel’s decision to pitch right-hander Joe Blanton in Game 4 rather than start the three-days-rest merry-go-round with his three aces.
I will say the same thing about the Phillies that several New York columnists said about the Yankees and their decision to start righty A.J. Burnett on Tuesday night while trailing by the same margin in their ALCS series, two games to one.
If the Phillies are so good, they should figure out a way to beat rookie left-hander Madison Bumgarner, even though Blanton will be starting for the first time in 21 days on Wednesday.
Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins said he has never seen Giants right-hander Matt Cain better than he was in his seven innings Tuesday. But center fielder Shane Victorino offered a more salient point after the Phillies managed just three hits in their 3-0 defeat.
“I’m not taking any credit from him,” Victorino said, referring to Cain. “But I still don’t think we’re swinging the bats the way we need to.”
Manuel was even more blunt in his assessment.
“Look, when you don’t score no runs, you don’t get no hits, it’s hard to win the game,” Manuel said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do about it. I can go in and talk to them about it, but when the game starts tomorrow is when we can do something about it.
“When the game starts, that’s when you’re supposed to hit. You’re kind of on your own when you leave the dugout.”
Oh, Manuel can switch his lineup in Game 4, starting Ben Francisco rather than Raul Ibanez to get a right-left matchup against Bumgarner; Ibanez, mired in an 0-for-15 slump, struck out twice and hit into a double play Tuesday.
Manuel, though, is loyal to his veterans. Francisco’s last at-bat was Oct. 3. The Giants benefited from lineup changes Tuesday, but one switch probably will not do much for the Phillies.
“It’s getting kind of late to be trying to make moves, isn’t it?” Manuel asked.
Yes, and the evidence against the Phillies is mounting:
• Closer Brian Wilson has earned two saves and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
No question, the Giants’ staff is terrific. But the Phillies faced a lesser Reds staff in the Division Series and still did little offensively.
For the postseason, they are batting .159/.328/.182 in six games. They are 5-for-41 with runners in scoring position since the second inning of Game 1 in the Division Series.
Injuries contributed to the Phillies’ occasional funks during the regular season, but now there is no excuse. All of the Phils’ regulars are back; Rollins, who is batting sixth rather than leadoff due to his season-long leg issues, is the only concern.
The bottom line is this: Maybe the Phillies just aren’t that good.
Utley and Jayson Werth sat near the back of the clubhouse after Tuesday’s game, replaying their at-bats on laptops. Howard declined to talk to reporters. Rollins projected his usual confidence and offered his usual honesty.
Which player is it incumbent upon to start the offense, Jimmy?
“Whoever has a chance to drive in a run,” Rollins said.
Bumgarner, 21, is quite good, quite mature. The old Phillies, undaunted, would have yawned, pounded him and said, “next.” These Phillies, too, are capable of inflicting such a beating, but their own manager is a skeptic.
He has seen too little. He has seen too much.
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