It was a mighty impressive series if viewed from a readable scoreboard distance, that Phils’ wipeout of the Reds. Yes, indeed. The NL team batting leaders were held to a mere four runs in three games, and they weren’t even able to spread them out over two of those contests. Roy Halladay even threw a no-hitter in the first game, and nobody who’s lived in Southeastern Pennsylvania or South Jersey for any length of time – and followed sports – would ever be optimistic enough to have predicted that.
So, it’s all good as Philadelphia awaits the next playoff round’s victim?
Not quite. A quick perusal of the box score from the NLDS-deciding game October 10th tells part of the story because it includes aggregate batting averages for the series just won. For Philadelphia, only two batters had averages over .250, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Both posted a somewhat unimpressive .273, and Utley’s number would have been lower if he hadn’t snuck a 379-foot home run just over the wall on Sunday night. Howard went 2 for 4 in that game, neither driving in nor scoring a run. Four of the regular starting nine posted series averages between .091 (Jimmy Rollins) and .231 (Shane Victorino). N.B. here, the title above involves a “New Red Machine,” because thus far in this postseason, the Phillies are not the “Big Red Machine 2.0.”
Other matters involving bats to consider: the 3-0 winners put up only thirteen runs in three games, and six of them were unearned. Five came in the second game when, quite weirdly, everybody whose opinion mattered agreed with himself that Chase Utley was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning when he clearly wasn’t, and in protest, the Reds decided to play soccer for the rest of the inning. In that soccer game, a friend, my wife and I counted seven hand balls (apparently deliberate touches, but definitely not catches).
We’re pretty sure that it registered with the MLB umpiring hierarchy that Utley got away with grand larceny there, and therefore, he likely won’t be able to do that again this postseason. Who knows, though? If another pitcher on San Francisco or Atlanta surfaces who throws between 100 and 105 mph, maybe another ball hitting the catcher’s glove will again be mistaken for a ball hitting the batter.
Following the NLDS clincher, Joe Simpson, the TBS broadcaster, delivered himself of the opinion that the only team that might be able to stop the Phillies this postseason is the Phillies themselves, but he really didn’t sound as though he thought that would happen. They have the pitching. This is inarguable. They have the hitting potential, but at the moment that appears to be only potential.
Sunday night Philly’s catcher, Carlos Ruiz, pounded a 105-mph Aroldis Chapman fastball for a double. (It was Chapman’s second documented pitch at that speed.) But that same night a friend who most definitely knows the rules of scoring for baseball sent this text: “Rollins just walked – and raised his batting average.”
If they don’t start to hit a bit more, the Phillies might find themselves in truly unknown territory this fall – a postseason double no-hitter.
No? Check out Jonathan Sanchez’ pitching line against Atlanta October 10th – 2 H, 11 K, 7.1 IP. Now go back and check on Tim Lincecum’s from October 7th against the Tomahawks – 2 H, 14 K, CG.
“Giants 1, Braves 0 (Thursday, October 7, 2010).” MLB.com. 11 October 2010.
“Giants 3, Braves 2 (Sunday, October 10, 2010).” MLB.com. 11 October 2010.
“Division Series (Reds vs Phillies).” MLB.com. 11 October 2010.
“MLB Playoff (Philadelphia at Cincinnati).” NLDS. TBS, Philadelphia. 10 October 2010.
“Phillies Pounce on Cinc-E for 2-0 Lead.” MLB.com. 11 October 2010.
“Phillies Recap (Box Score).” The Philadelphia Inquirer 11 October 2010: D5.