NLDS Game Two Review: Philadelphia

Well, as improbable as it was, this game did not turn out exactly like Carson Cistulli drew it up. Roy Oswalt did not strike out fifteen batters and hold the Reds scoreless, and Scott Rolen did not hit a home run off of Jose Contreras. And instead of two homers, Chase Utley hit no homers.

The funny thing? The Phillies still won and Bronson Arroyo actually pitched as decently as was predicted. What if Sports had Arroyo going seven innings with a strikeout, a walk and three runs allowed on five hits, and he actually allowed two (unearned) runs in five and a third innings with two strikeouts, three walks and four hits allowed. I mean, that’s not bad for literally trying to predict the future down to the hit batsman. Despite the awesome leg kick, and kicking tunes, Arroyo’s stuff was not of the shut-down variety (two swinging strikes all game). He gamed through it, gritting and grission-ing his team to a lead.

Arroyo may not have been as good as the typical game story may suggest, but the task at hand is to think about this from the Phillies’ angle. And really, was Oswalt’s night deserving of so much better? I mean, yes he had better ‘stuff’ and more swinging strikes (nine of them!) and was right around the zone all night (only one walk, and no pitches that were a foot-plus out of the zone like Arroyo had), but he also grooved a few many straight down Broadway. Those home runs to Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce happened, we can’t xFIP them away despite Oswalt having a decent groundball-to-flyball ratio (6-to-7).

Though Jimmy Rollins was oh-for-the-series, and ‘failed’ once again in a key position (one down, tying runs on base in the 7th inning, the third-highest leverage index moment of the game), his soft flyball to Jay Bruce (a +18.9 Right Fielder this year according to UZR) was muffed about a billion times, and suddenly Rollins looks like a hero to Oswalt’s zero. Seriously, Bruce missed a play he should have had 95+ times out of a 100 (or, rather, 256 in 259 times), then screwed up the throw, the relay was punted, and Rollins stands on second with the crowd roaring. Rollins gets a .352 WPA for the play, Oswalt a -.152 for his five innings, three run effort. Sometimes WPA doesn’t tell the whole story.

The Reds, the better fielding team going in, fell apart and made a division-series-record four errors in a game they should or could have won. Or: The Phillies put the ball in play against a Reds’ staff that only struck out four in nine innings – putting pressure on the defense, which lead to five unearned runs and a win. Two ways to tell the story once again, but as happy as the Phils may be, they have to know that a good amount of luck helped them along their way on Friday night.

In another universe, in another iteration of this game, Oswalt pitched a second-straight no-hitter and the Phillies beat up on Arroyo. Same result, I guess. Phillies up 2-0 and a step away from the NLCS.



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With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here or at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


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chuckb
Guest
chuckb

It should also be noted that Dusty Baker managed a 4-0 lead into the 1 run game that the Phils ended up turning into the win. Arroyo should have never been allowed to pitch to Utley with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the 5th. It should’ve been Chapman time or Bill Bray time; a lefty should have been in the game. Utley singled in 2 runs and then began the 6th, giving up the walk to Werth. Werth, of course, came around to score a few batters later. The Reds should have been into the bullpen long before they were, as they were playing with fire with Arroyo on the mound facing all those lefties. Terrible managing.

The terrible fielding and pretty bad pitching by the pen may have helped the Reds lose anyway but Dusty helped turn a 4 run lead into a 1 run lead that the Reds were unable to sustain.

WY
Guest
WY

I don’t think he had anyone ready, nor did he really have any reason to get anyone ready given that there were two outs with just one on before the Reds made two errors in succession. And it’s not like the bullpen exactly shined when given the opportunity.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb

He probably didn’t have anyone ready in the pen but he certainly should have. Arroyo was living on borrowed time, as Dave noted in his preview, and should not have been pitching to Utley for the 3rd time in such a key situation.

As noted below, it may not have made a difference as the pen didn’t pitch particularly well and the defense also let the Reds down but those facts don’t absolve Baker of his obvious mistake.

george
Guest

wellll arroyo was a whole lot better than I’m reading here about and obv deserved a better outcome – he pitched to utley because in the prior at-bat, he made the most brilliant set of pitches that I saw, in a long, long time – just stupid. that said, it was probably time to cash in on the good fortune and go with the more likely match-ups proposed (Bray or Chapman).

DavidCEisen
Guest
DavidCEisen

Yes he struck Utley out in a great series of pitches, but Utley is one of the best hitters in baseball and he tried to pitch to him in the exact same manner as the first time. Utley was sitting on a change-up inside and got it.

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