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Cliff Lee and Phillies blow four-run lead as Cardinals tie NLDS

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Philadelphia Phillies logo: http://www.wondergy.com/art/logos/phillies_logo.gifWow, talk about a role reversal.
 
Phillies fans waited two years to see Cliff Lee pitch again in the post season. Unfortunately, it looked more like the Cliff Lee who the Giants rocked in last year’s World Series than the one who won two games in the 2009 World Series.

After ‘working’ over tired Cardinals’ ace Chris Carpenter  for four runs in three innings, the bats inexplicably went dead. Six Cardinals relievers held the Phillies to just one hit over the last six innings. Moreover, only two base runners even reached first base after this time. The bats falling asleep is what we feared come playoff time. When the Phillies put up 11 runs like they did in Game 1, they sometimes come out flat the next game.

This was a mirror image of Game 1, only the good guys didn’t win this time. Let’s break it down.

What went right:

After the third inning, not much. If the Phillies worked every pitcher like they worked Carpenter during the first three innings, chances are they might be on the winning side of this game. At least the bullpen did an admirable job, especially Brad Lidge, who really got the Phillies out of that seventh inning jam when everything fell apart. Antonio Bastardo looked decent,  it was good to give Vance Worley some work as well, and we all know Ryan Madson’s track record.

What went wrong:Cardinals logo: www.sullybaseball.blogspot.com

Cliff Lee- The Phillies paid Lee $125 million to win games like this, and he did not deliver. The Cardinals once again attacked Lee early, as Rafael Furcal tripled on the very first pitch of the game. To be fair, Lee wasn’t getting any pitches because home plate umpire Jerry Meals was beyond horrid with absolutely no consistency, but it didn’t stop the Cardinals relievers. Frankly, Tony LaRussa is right, but he should really be quiet. His team won the game. Lee was laboring even in the sixth inning, so it’s questionable as to whether he still should have gone out to in the seventh.

The Phillies kept the Cardinals close because their bats died- This is a concern that will never, ever go way with this team.  It boggles my mind how they can work a pitcher like Carpenter like they did, and do the exact opposite against the Cardinals’ bullpen. You can’t let a team like St. Louis stay in a game like this. You put your foot on their throats. The Phillies didn’t do that, the Cardinals battled, and it cost them the game.

Placido Polanco- It’s obvious by now that Polanco just doesn’t have it. The Phillies had a better chance with Lee at the plate hitting tonight than they did Polanco. Don’t be surprised if you see Wilson Valdez manning the hot corner at some point in this series. Polanco has no power left at all, and John Mayberry Jr should have hit for him in the ninth inning.

Come to think of it, why in the world didn’t Mayberry hit in the seventh instead of Ben Francisco?!

Looking ahead:

Blowing a 4-0 lead with your number two starter on the mound without Matt Holliday in their lineup is an absolute disgrace, especially if you consider yourself a “Championship Caliber Team.” It must have been contagious, as the Eagles blew an even bigger lead to the 49ers earlier in the afternoon. It’s only one game, but with this win, the Cards are unofficially-officially in the drivers seat. Coming back after being down 4-0 with Cliff Lee on the mound, they are now heading back to St. Louis with Phillie killer Jaime Garcia  pitching Game 3, Carpenter will be well rested to possibly pitch a Game 5, and their bullpen looks great. Talk about a momentum change. This is one confident team, and so are the Phillies.  But man, this game was so winnable.

Hey, I said it would be a nail biter......

Read Steve Olenski's Eagles column 'The Morning After'

 

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Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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