SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) — The Phillies’ offense has been anemic at times this season. They went a whole series in May without scoring a run. They were shutout 11 times during the regular season, and what was supposed to be a potent offense lurched and heaved forward buoyed by fantastic pitching.
The Phillies picked the wrong time for their offense to hibernate again — during the most crucial time of the season. Philadelphia was held to a mere three hits, and squandered scoring chances in the third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings in a 3-0 loss to the Giants, falling to a 2-1 deficit in the National League Championship Series.
Giants’ starter Matt Cain was the winner, averting trouble, inducing ground balls at the right time, while striking out five, yielding two hits (a Carlos Ruiz single in the third and a Ryan Howard single in the fourth) and giving up three walks over 119 pitches and seven innings.
Losing pitcher Cole Hamels deserved better. The crafty left-hander gave up three runs over six innings, on 101 pitches. He surrendered five hits, including a pair of RBI singles to Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff in the fourth. Former Phillie Aaron Rowand scored the Giants’ third run in the fifth on a ground ball that Chase Utley should have fielded.
But again, run support has been a burden Hamels has had to lug around this season.
Consider the following throughout the playoffs: Lead-off hitter Shane Victorino is hitting a paltry .208 (5-for-24), Chase Utley is at .190 (4-21), Placido Polanco dips even below that at .150 (3-20), and Raul Ibanez drags at the bottom of the Phillies’ offensive woes, hitting .130 (3-23).
As for the rest of the Phils’ starters, they aren’t fairing much better this postseason. Though Jimmy Rollins picked it up in Game 2 by going 2-for-3, he slumped back down in Game 3, going 1-for-4, with a ninth-inning single. Joining his teammates in the struggle department, Rollins is hitting .182 (4-22). The only offense the Phillies have been able to muster has come from Howard (.318, 7-22) and Ruiz (.235, 4-17), while Rollins is the only Phillie with two-out RBIs in the series, driving in four with two outs (a walk and a three-run double) in the Phils’ 6-1 Game 2 blowout.
Compare that output to the Giants, who have had five different players come through with clutch two-out RBIs (Pat Burrell, Juan Uribe, Freddy Sanchez, Ross and Huff ). The Giants were supposed to be the weaker hitting team. But Ross has been a one-man wrecking crew. His two solo homers in Game 1 propelled the Giants to a surprising 4-3 victory over Roy Halladay, and his solo shot in Game 2 made it a competitive game until the Giants fell apart in the seventh inning.
There was no falling apart this time, however.
San Francisco only had five hits, but bunched them in the fourth and fifth innings to produce all the runs the Giants would need. San Francisco played small ball to get its first run across, when Edgar Renteria singled to start off the fourth, and was sacrificed to second by Freddy Sanchez.
Hamels bore down to get Buster Posey to strike out swinging, but walked Burrell and that sent up the human thorn in the Phillies’ side — Ross. He didn’t waste the opportunity, slapping a 2-1 pitch to left, scoring Renteria from second and sending Burrell to third. Huff followed with a single to right, scoring Burrell and giving the Giants a 2-0 lead.
San Francisco added another run in the fifth, when Rowand led off with a double, and came around to score when Sanchez slammed a shot that short-hopped Utley, bounced off his wrist, and caromed into centerfield. Rowand, running all the way with two outs, was easily safe at home. Utley was originally given an error, but it was later changed to a hit, giving Sanchez an RBI single.
All three Giants’ runs were scored with two outs. The Phillies never had a runner reach third base.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Phillies seemed disinterested. Fielding lapses, hitting lapses and one hot Giants’ hitter stung them in Game 2 of the NLCS. If they don’t find their missing offense on Wednesday, the Phils could find themselves in a hole in which they can’t climb out.
Reported by: Joseph Santoliquito