The dream died. Phillies will not return to a third straight World Series. Philadelphia will not have the chance to celebrate their second World Series title in 3 years. Former Phillie Cliff Lee will not face his former team and Phillies Nation will never know what it was like to be held head and shoulders above the rest as the best team in baseball.
When it ended last night, Ryan Howard walked up the tunnel behind the Phillies’ dugout for the final time this season and sat in the chair in front of his locker.
He sat….And sat…. And sat….Over and over, he replayed the final night of the 2010 season in his mind. It wasn’t pleasant. Finally, Howard mustered the energy to pull off his red pinstripes and concede defeat. 2010 is over – at least for the Philadelphia Phillies.
“There were a lot of things that were going on,” Howard said. “I was thinking about the pitch. Our season was over. It’s kind of a sucky way to end the game, a sucky way to end the year, you know, being that guy who didn’t get it done.” Howard was the final batter of the Phillies’ season. He had a chance to extend the season, of course, but took a called third strike from San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson with two men on base to end the game and throw the roaring crowd of 46,062 into complete silence.
And so the Phillies’ season ended late Saturday night with a 3-2 loss to the Giants in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. The Giants will host the Texas Rangers in San Francisco as Game 1 of the World Series takes place on Wednesday night.
The Phillies are headed home for a long, cold winter, ending their dream of making it to the World Series for a third straight year. The Phils had the best record in the majors in 2010, but won’t have the chance to validate their season in the sport’s signature event. Make no mistake, that’s all that mattered to them. On the final weekend of the season, Shane Victorino was quoted, “No one remembers if you had the best record if you don’t win the World Series.”
Manager Charlie Manuel felt an emptiness in not being able to validate the season with a trip to the World Series.
“That was our ultimate goal – to go to the World Series and win,” he said. “We didn’t get there. I just left our clubhouse and you could tell, without a doubt, every guy in there is disappointed.”
The Phillies should have been disappointed. Deeply disappointed. Though the Giants played better than them throughout the series, the Phils had plenty of chances to win the series. Three of their losses were by one run. Any of those outcomes could have been different if they had done a better job moving runners on the bases and hitting with runners in scoring position. The Phils’ performance with runners in scoring position was abysmal. They were 8-for-45 (.178) in those situations and 2-for-11 in the final game.
Howard was a symbol of the team’s problem with runners in scoring position. When he took Wilson’s full-count slider to end the game, he fell to 1-for-6 in those situations in the NLCS and 1-for-7 in the postseason. Overall, Howard had an odd postseason. He hit .303 with a .395 on-base percentage, but the man paid to drive in runs came up woefully short in that department. His four extra-base hits in the postseason were all doubles. He struck out 17 times in nine games and did not drive in a single run in the entire postseason.
The Phillies’ failure to make the World Series stings for a lot of reasons, none more than the fact that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and his staff had assembled the best starting pitching staff in club history with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Hamels would have started Game 7, but alas, there will be none. Postseason opportunities are not guaranteed to anyone. A team must cash in when it gets them, or watch another year come off its shelf life.
The Game 6 loss was a microcosm of the series for the Phils. Backed by a huge, loud crowd of 46,062, the Phils jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. It felt like it was going to be a great night for the locals as Oswalt breezed through the first two innings. But the Phils’ did not score the rest of the game. They chased San Francisco starter Jonathan Sanchez before he got an out in the third inning, but the Giants’ bullpen responded with seven shutout innings.
The Phils had runners on first and second with no outs in the third. They got nothing out of it. They left the bases loaded in the fifth and wasted a leadoff double by Raul Ibanez in the sixth. In the eighth, after the Phils had gone down by a run, a sense of doom fell over the stadium when Carlos Ruiz came to the plate with men on first and second and one out. He lined hard into a double play.
“We had chances,” Manuel said. “We just couldn’t get the big hit.” And when you don’t get that big hit and the innings tick away?
“It takes a toll on you,” Manuel said. “You start trying too hard. You become tense at the plate and the game becomes harder. I was a player. I know.”
The Giants, who had tied the game with an unearned run in the third inning, finally took the lead on Juan Uribe’s first-pitch homer off Ryan Madson with two outs in the eighth. Uribe leaned into a cutter and lifted it a few feet over the right-field wall.
“When he hit it and I saw [rightfielder] Jayson Werth go toward the fence with his back to me, I said, ‘Oh, no,’ “ Manuel said. Uribe’s “oh-no” homer threw a hush into the crowd. Things got quiet again when Ruiz lined out to end the eighth and Howard struck out to end the season. Now, Citizens Bank Park is quiet for the winter.
“We let down a lot of people,” Madson said. “And ourselves, as well.”
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org