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Phillies' "Dream Season" a sham: Cardinals advance to play Brewers in NLCS

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Philadelphia Phillies logo: http://www.wondergy.com/art/logos/phillies_logo.gifIt’s 6 o’clock in the morning, and I am still at a complete loss for words in regards to what happened Friday night in Game 5 of the NLDS.
 
The shock comes more from the fact that for the second straight year, the bats of this Phillies team fell asleep quicker than David Lee Roth after popping a Xanex, and the team with baseball’s best record for the second year in a row is going home empty handed. The Cardinals played to win, and the Phillies played, well, I honestly don’t know what the Phillies' deal is.

I do know this: For the second year in a row, the opposing team at Citizens Bank Park was popping champagne in their clubhouse, and the Phillies will be watching the NLCS on television, while the Cardinals play the Brewers in Milwaukee starting on Sunday.  Man, this stinks.

Now onto the game.

What went right:

Roy Halladay gave the Phillies a chance to win: Halladay is not known to be his sharpest in the first inning, and the Cardinals made him pay for it. Teams that are playing well over their heads do that kind of stuff in the playoffs. Simply put, Halladay had one of the gutsiest performances I’ve ever seen a Phillies pitcher have. It’s not his fault his offense redefines putrid, and putrid is being nice.

Halladay gave his team a tremendous chance to get the ONE run they needed to tie this game. His most impressive inning was probably the top of the eighth, when he retired Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday after loading the bases with just one out. His post game conference was not pleasant, and you’d swear he was about to pummel anybody who got on his bad side. Who could blame him? Halladay pitched his heart out for a bunch of overpaid millionaires who only managed three hits in the biggest game of the year.

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

The offense- All season long, there was a fear that the Phillies starters had to pitch perfectly with very little margin for error because of their subpar offense, and on Friday night this cost them their season. It’s not like the Phillies didn’t have their chances against Cardinals’ starter Chris Carpenter, who has now become this generation’s Steve Rogers with his three hit gem Friday night. The Phightins were held scoreless in 31 of its last 36 innings. Unacceptable.

Ryan Howard- Carpenter even acknowledged at the post-game press conference that Howard swinging at a 3-0 pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning gave him a tremendous lift. You think so, Chris? Yeah that is pretty huge. After all, I truly don’t know how I’d react if these guys actually drew a walk.   

It’s bad enough that Howard has failed to deliver in four straight post season series, but he redefined the term ‘insult to injury’ when he again made the final out of the playoffs for the Phillies and in the process possibly torn  his left achilles tendon while the Cardinals were celebrating around him. If this is a major achilles injury, the turnaround time is six months at best, which means Howard ‘might’ be ready for Spring Training 2012. Howard’s five-year, $125 million deal kicks in next year. There hasn’t been worse timing for a new contract followed by an injury since J.J. tripped his football playing brother-in-law on ‘Good Times’ while he was walking out of the church following his wedding.

A friend of mine told me just before the game he had a bad feeling that this game could somehow come down to Howard. It’s a shame that this is happening to him the way it is. Whether it’s fair or not, Howard’s legacy in this town is getting smaller and smaller with each post season failure, and that five-year-deal is just beginning.......

Placido Polanco- Should not have even been playing. He can’t even hit a ball out of the infield and should have been lifted for a pinch hitter, whether he’s a veteran or not.

Chase Utley-  14 for 14 in stolen base attempts in the 2011 regular season, then gets thrown out for the first time this season in the biggest game of the year. Utley may have had a have decent series with the bat, but his combination of heads up plays combined with some incredibly boneheaded decisions really make his series an overall mixed bag.

Some final thoughts:

What if Cliff Lee held that 4-0 lead in Game 2?  $125 million to basically pitch one game in the playoffs, and Lee blew a 4-0 lead for only the second time in his career. Prior to last Sunday’s game, Lee was 87-1 when given a 4-0 lead. The Phils win that game, they win the series.

Just who in the hell is David Freese? I’m getting real sick of these second stringers come out of nowhere and have their 15 minutes of fame against the Phillies.

Adam Wainwright is the best pitcher on the Cardinals. And oh yeah, Wainwright didn’t even throw a single pitch in 2011.

What if Shane Victorino’s relay was a clean one on Rafael Furcal’s triple in Game 5?

Simply put, the Cardinals outplayed the Phillies. They beat Lee and Roy Oswalt, and they outhit the Phillies. If you can’t win a World Series with the team Ruben Amaro put on the field, who can you win it with? It was now or never for this team. We will talk about the future of the Phillies in other articles, but this was it. The scenario was perfect, or so it seemed.

Black Friday: October 7th, 1977, was exactly 34 years to the day that Game 5 of the NLDS was also played. We can now add another chapter called Black Friday II.

For the second straight year, the Phillies lost to a team that clinched a playoff berth in the final game of the regular season. Hard to believe Harry.

And finally......

102 wins- the most ever in Phillies’ history for a single season: All for nothing.

The four aces- THE most heralded pitching staff in last half century: All for nothing.

I’m done.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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