NLDS GAME 1: Brick Wall
After a magical September playing “B” teams and clubs with losing records, the Cardinals had to face the best lineup of the best team in the league. Needless to say, the outcome was less than magical. The Phillies pulverized the Cardinals 11-6 to take an important 1-0 lead in the series statistically and psychologically. It was an old-fashioned ass-whoopin’.
FIRST STRIKE: Like so many games this year, the Cardinals jumped out in front on a three-run homer by Lance Berkman that was hit so hard and so far that it probably hit the actual Liberty Bell. It’s been a while since Puma ripped a round tripper, and it was a much-needed blow. Sadly, it didn’t inspire anyone other than Roy Halladay …
FILTHY: After the first inning blowout, Halladay was almost another pitcher entirely. He set down 21 Cardinals in a row at one point, changing speeds and tossing nasty breaking balls at them like he was throwing softball practice. And the Cards swung at every dirt-high pitch.
THE LOHSER: While not officially the loser of the game, Kyle Lohse failed to give the Cardinals what they desperately needed: a fighting chance. After keeping the Phillies in check for five innings, Lohse exploded for five fast runs, mostly as a result of home runs by Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez. He didn’t make adjustments when the Phillies stopped swinging at those low, tailing off-speed pitches.
LAPSE: A Cardinals loss often turns on a misplayed ball or an error. This happened in the fourth inning when Allen Craig clumsily misplayed a fly ball to the right field wall off the bat of Chase Utley. Then David Freese dropped a harmless foul fly ball off the bat of Shane Victorino with two runners on and one out. If he makes that play, the entire tone of the game changes. Because he missed it, Victorino turned around and slammed a run-scoring single that sent Lohse and the game reeling out of control. A definite turning point.
SLOW HAND: Why didn’t TLR pull Lohse in the sixth after Ryan Howard‘s bomb? Or after Shane Victorino slashed a single? It was pretty obvious that the Phillies suddenly had Lohse’s number. Instead, TLR leaves Lohse out there (which he never does) to give up the home run to Ibanez. That made the score 6-3 at that point, which was well within striking distance.
BULLSHIT PEN: Marc Rzepczynski has dug himself a nice hole underneath TLR’s doghouse with this awful performance tonight. His line looks like this: ZERO innings pitched, three runs, three hits, and 3 RBI’s. Zeppo has had a rough month. Following that disaster came Mitchell Boggs. TLR snarled as Boggs entered the seventh down 8-3 and put the game out of reach with two earned runs. Apparently neither one of these guys remembers or minds TLR ignoring them for weeks at a time. Except that we don’t have weeks for this ineffectiveness.
LAST GASP: The Cards decided to show a little life in the ninth, when they scored three runs and had two on with only one out. While still needing two more runners to have a chance, it looked like the Redbirds might be putting together a rally. That was before Ryan Madson came in and struck out Jon Jay (overmatched at 0-4 with two strikeouts) and Matt Holliday to end the “threat.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Berkman, for showing clutch power at the right time.
CONCLUSION: The Cardinals looked severely overmatched in almost every department tonight. The Phillies came to the park today on a mission to mercilessly murder the Cardinals, and they did so with ruthless efficiency. If the Cardinals have any chance in this series, tomorrow must be an entirely different effort.