NLDS Game Two Recap: Reds throw the game away, Phillies take a 2-0 series lead
There are several adjectives to describe Game 2 of the 2010 NLDS: sloppy, nerve wracking, and at times downright ugly. At the end of the day however, the Phillies came out on the better end of a 7-4 score to take a commanding 2-0 series lead on the Reds as the series shifts to Cincinnati Sunday night.
Nobody wants to accuse us of being boring, so we won't recap every detail of this game because chances are you watched it. Instead, we're going to throw out all the filler and keep all the good stuff. Or at least the stuff about the Phils you want to know about. Enjoy!
The Phillies' bullpen- J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin, Jose Contreras, Ryan Madson, and Brad Lidge combined for one hit and four scoreless innings against the best offense in the National League. Romero's outing was particularly encouraging. Oddly enough, the only out Durbin recorded was when he picked off Drew Stubbs to end the top of the 6th inning.
The Phillies' resiliency- Unlike the Reds, the Phils showed their post season experience tonight. Only two of their seven runs scored were earned, but the Phillies capitalized on the four errors of the normally sure-handed Reds. Gold Glovers Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen made key miscues resulting in Phillies runs, while Jay Bruce's misplay on Jimmy Rollins' fly ball in the seventh led to the go-ahead runs.
This was also noticeable at the plate. The results may not have always been there, but Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, and Raul Ibanez all worked deep counts at the plate during the course of the game. Rollins, who promptly grounded into a double play on the first pitch after Howard and Werth worked long at-bats, seemed to learn his lesson the next time around.
Mike Sweeney- After 15 years in the majors, Sweeney finally got an at-bat in the playoffs and got his first post season hit off Chapman in the seventh inning. Kudos to one of the classiest guys in baseball.
The not so good:
Roy Oswalt- The Reds seem to be making up for lost time after all these years. Oswalt was 23-1 lifetime against the Reds going into the 2010 season. However, the Reds beat him twice this year when Oswalt was still in Houston. Maybe it was him trying to follow-up the second no-hitter in the history of the post season, maybe it was nerves. Either or, it was Oswalt's worst start since his Phillies debut in Washington, and the timing couldn't have been worse. Oswalt didn't pitch horribly and wasn't exactly helped by his defense, but if the Phillies want to make a deep post season run, a much better outing will be needed from the former NLCS MVP.
Chase Utley's defense- Two of Utley's throwing errors led to an unearned run. We saw this before in last year's NLCS in Los Angeles. Utley later redeemed himself with a two-run single and possible Oscar-worthy performance, but you can't help but wonder whether his "Steve Sax Disease" has reared its ugly head again.
Aroldis Chapman- I've been to thousands of games in my lifetime, and the last three days I witnessed the second post season no-hitter in baseball history, and the fastest pitcher I've ever seen.
With the Phillies trailing in the bottom of the seventh and Utley and Howard scheduled to hit, it was a foregone conclusion that the "Cuban Missle" would make his much-anticipated appearance. Truth be told, I was scared FOR the Phillies, because if Chapman drilled any one of those guys, it could possibly kill one of them. Chapman didn't hit 105 on the gun, but 102 is close enough. Somewhere, Billy Wagner is wondering why we weren't booing Chapman.............
Utley's "Jeteresque" performance- When Chapman's "fastball" may have possibly grazed Utley's hand, the crowd of 46,000 held their collective breath. Ever the wordsmith, Utley said "I'm not sure," in regards to whether the pitch actually hit him. Replays may have showed otherwise, but who am I to argue when a 102 mph piece of cheese is coming at you? Needless to say, the crowd breathed a collective sigh of relief when he returned to the field for the top of the eighth inning. I believe the 2011 Oscars are in late February.
This was one crazy game. The Reds became the first playoff team in history to have four errors and three hit batsmen in a single game. After the first two games of the NLCS, the Reds have to be one dejected team right now. They were no-hit Wednesday, and they blew a four-run lead Friday. The Phillies still aren't hitting the way they are capable of and they have not homered in their first two victories of the postseason. While nobody is tearing the cover off the ball, Ryan Howard is noticeably struggling and needs to get his groove back in time for Game 3 on Sunday, or if and when the Phillies advance to the NLCS.
Back in 2006, I was visiting my grandfather in the hospital as Cole Hamels made his major league debut against the Reds. Four years later, Hamels will try to close out the NLDS in the same park where he threw his first major league pitch. In just a few weeks, I'll be moving into my grandfather's house. It all comes full circle. Hamels will end it Sunday. Just call it a hunch.
Joe Vallee is a lifelong Phillies fan and former Phillies batboy. Joe has claimed to have seen about 98% of every Phillies game since the early 1980's.
Contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Photo: The Enquirer/Jeff Swinger