Thursday, August 26, 2010

Disgrace of Base Running

Don't turn around, or you might get picked off second. Or caught stealing third. Or fumble around the base and get picked off third.

Three games at home against the terrible Astros. Three losses. Three terrible base-running errors. Unreal.

On Wednesday, it was Jayson Werth. With the Phillies up by a run in the 6th inning, Jayson Werth was on second base, in scoring position as a potentially huge insurance run. Then, he gets picked off second … by the catcher … on an intentional fucking walk. That ended the inning, the controversial tag/no tag, in the base path/out of the base path call ensued, and the Phillies lost by a run.


Then on Tuesday, with the Phillies trailing by a run in the 7th inning, Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco got back-to-back walks with one out. Rollins was the tying run firmly planted in scoring position on second base. In the 7th inning. With just one out. With Chase Utely up and Ryan Howard on deck. So what does Jimmy do? He stupidly attempts to steal third, getting picked off. That means now it would take a two-out hit to tie the game, with Polanco now on second. Instead, Chase flew out, and Howard was left on deck. And of course, the Phillies lost again.

It was incredibly stupid for a number of reasons. One, Rollins was already in scoring position as the tying run, meaning even if Utley got out, Howard would have a chance to drive him in — you know, your team's best two hitters and RBI men over the past five years, albeit two guys who are struggling after missing so much time. Second, Utley rarely grounds into double plays, so trying to take that out of the equation is pointless. Third, you're down a god damn run. You don't try to steal third when you're losing and you represent the tying run.

Yeah, he did crush that home run to tie it, but that doesn't make the base-running play any less stupid. And the Phils lost anyway, in 16 long, absurd innings that saw Ryan Howard ejected, Raul Ibanez put at first and Roy Oswalt shagging a fly ball in left against his old team, and all the circumstances that led to it:

Then last night, again with the Phillies down a run, Ben Francisco gets picked off third. It was just too much to take. Sitting on third as the tying run with two outs in the 7th and Jimmy Rollins at the plate, one of the few players that actually has made a habit of getting hits with runners in scoring position this year, Ben Francisco was clumsily going back to third after a pitch, looking at second and completely losing sight of the bag despite not being far away from it at all. He fumbled around with his foot trying to find the bag, which Humberto Quintero noticed, so he fired. As Francisco tried to get his foot back down on the bag, he stumbled on Chris Johnson's foot and was tagged out before he could get back on the base. Un-fucking-believable.

"Hey Ben, we are both fucking idiots …"

Naturally, the Phillies lost by a run yet again, failing to capitalize on another Braves' loss yet again.

Listen, the Phillies didn't necessarily lose any of these three horrific games against the Astros because of these plays, but they certainly were huge. The Phillies aren't hitting. Not one bit. And that sucks. And is pretty pathetic. But with the middle of the order — Utley and Howard — just returning from the DL, their rustiness and frankly horrendous hitting since returning is unsurprising. Add in the fact that this team has struggled offensively throughout much of the season, and these things happen. Even against the shitty Astros. It may be ill-timed, but these hitting slumps happen.

What can't happen, ever, especially in the middle of a death race for the playoffs, is ridiculously dumb baseball. And that's exactly what's happened with the Phillies in the first three games of a four-game set, at home, against the Astros. These three ridiculous base-running blunders highlight that fact.

I'm sorry, but that just can not happen. Can't. It's absurd. Inexcusable. Embarrassing.

Now the Phils are once again tied with San Francisco in the Wild Card, and they're still 2.5 games behind Atlanta in the division despite Atlanta doing everything in its power to hand the NL East over to the Phils.

These guys better wake the hell up, and they better start this afternoon against Houston. Getting swept by the Astros is not an option. Not in late August. Not with so much at stake. Then again, it's pretty likely, considering the Phils have their fifth starter in the being of Kyle Kendrick going up against the lefthanded Wandy Rodriguez.

Let's hope the good Kyle shows up. And the bats. The Phils really need it.

BallHype: hype it up!

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