Why the Philles lost the World Series

It feels strange being on the other side of this, feeling what fans of the Brewers, Dodgers, Rays, Rockies, and Dodgers again, felt, after concluding a losing series to the Phillies. After all, my generation of Phillies followers hasn’t experienced much playoff despair.

I was four years old when the Phils lost the 1993 World Series, so aside from the 2007 sweep at the hands of the Rockies, I hadn’t been through a competitive postseason series that saw my team come up short.

But, without mincing words, the Phillies didn’t deserve to win the 2009 World Series. They failed to capitalize on a Game One win on the road, and were blatantly outplayed over the next five games. When opposing a fantasy baseball team like the Yankees, there is no margin for error. If you have runners in scoring position with less than two outs against the highest scoring team in all of major league baseball, you better knock them in.

The Phillies failed to capitalize with runners on time and time again, while their counterparts seemed to thrive in high-pressure situations. The clinching Game Six was merely a microcosm of the entire series; the Phils went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on-base, en route to a 7-3 loss.

After the NLDS and NLCS, I outlined the main reasons for the Phillies’ triumph. Several ingredients were: Ryan Howard’s transformation into a postseason monster, timely hitting at the bottom of the order, a dazzling performance by Pedro Martinez, the bullpen’s abilityto bear down and strand runners in key situations, and, not to be forgotten, intelligent decision-making from Charlie Manuel.

Aside from Carlos Ruiz hitting .333 out of the eighth and ninth spots in the lineup, none of these factors carried over into the World Series.

Howard, who looked unstoppable before the week-long layoff in between rounds, went 4-for-23, with one homer, three RBIs, and a World Series record 13 strikeouts. In Games Two through Five, he was 1-for-14 with 10 strikeouts.

The bottom of the Phillies order was absolutely dreadful in the World Series. Pedro Feliz came up big in Game Four, going 3-for-4 with a game-tying homer in the eighth, but was 1-for-19 in the other five games. Ben Francisco, who played left field in two games in New York while Raul Ibanez played DH, went 0-for-6. Ruiz was the lone bright spot, leading all Phillies with a .333 batting average and .478 OBP.

Martinez, coming off of a magnificent start in the NLCS (seven innings, three hits, zero runs,) effectively shut down eight of the nine members of the Yankees lineup. All Yankees-not-named-Hideki Matsui were 7-for-35 against the righthander. Unfortunately, Matsui was 4-for-4, with two home runs, 5 RBIs and a walk vs. Pedro, skewing his numbers drastically. The Yankees may not have proved to be Pedro’s “daddy,” but Matsui, himself, certainly did.

The Phillies bullpen wasn’t hit exceptionally hard, but the unit didn’t live up to the standards it had set during the Divisional and Championship Series. Chan Ho Park, Ryan Madson, J.A. Happ and Scott Eyre combined to give up a mere two earned runs in 12.2 innings, but Brad Lidge, Chad Durbin, and Brett Myers struggled, giving up eight runs in 3.1 innings. Durbin couldn’t stop the Yankees either time he came in, and Lidge’s meltdown in Game Four dramatically changed the series, shifting an unquantifiable amount of momentum in the favor of the Yankees.

Manuel made several strange decisions, but, as I said with Joe Torre in the NLCS, it is much more difficult to push all the right buttons when you are constantly playing from behind. Manuel probably should not have left Martinez in during the seventh inning of Game Two, and, in my opinion, should have removed him after the second inning of Game Six. It was abundantly clear that Pedro had absolutely nothing in his second start. His fastball, which had reached as high as 92 mph previously, was hovering in the 84-86 range. Every Yankees player was hitting him hard, and if not for badly placed line-drive outs, the game could have gotten ugly much faster.

This year just wasn’t the Phillies year. Despite 93 regular season wins, and nine more in the playoffs, this was a flawed team. A lack of situational hitting and any sort of bench plagued the Phillies all season, and both aspects reared their ugly heads in the World Series. But more importantly, the season-long struggles of Lidge and Cole Hamels were once again prevalent at the most inopportune of times, and the performances of those two will surely be cited as the main reasons the Phillies fell short of repeating as World Champions.


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Bob Rittner
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Bob Rittner
I consider Tom Hanrahan right in every particular. Compare the hitters for example. True, Feliz hit poorly, but was he significantly worse than Swisher who batted in the same spot in the Yankee lineup most games and who never had quite as dramatic a game as Feliz did? And Howard was disappointing, but more so than Teixeira? Ibanez had two bad games, but so did A-Rod, while Cano was awful throughout and Ruiz was outstanding. If anything, the big difference in performance is at the top of the lineup where Jeter and Damon were on base a lot more than… Read more »
Tom Hanrahan
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Tom Hanrahan
One particular instance: It can’t be only me that noticed theat VERY EASILY, Mariano’s 9th inning in game 6 could have an implosion. 7-3 lead, 3 outs to go. Stairs rips one, two, three great shots, but he gets two foul balls and a hard line out. Next guys walks. Rollins pins an OF-er to the fence. That was almost a score of 7-6, still 3 outs to go, and Mariano having already thrown 38 pitches; and they aren;t going to warm up anyone else at that point, are they now. Can he get three outs at the point? Maybe.… Read more »
Gilbert
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Gilbert
There used to be loads written about the great Pedro of old being vulnerable after 100 pitches or so like Mr Hyde turning back into Dr. Jekyll.  So I was surprised by his being kept out as long in game 2 as he was, but not having a sure bullpen ties the mgr’s hands somewhat.  Hadn’t thought about the “It was his game to lose” managerial comments we used to hear, like leaving in Liebrandt instead of putting in a fading Quisenberry. A subjective comment is that the last game seemed like Phillies vs. Toronto, when it seemed that Phi… Read more »
Gilbert
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Gilbert

Oh, and fix the title
“Why the Philles lost the World Series”
Save that extra vowel for the Natinals.

Paul
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Paul
The Phillies did have the better offensive components but outside of home runs (11 to 6 advantage) it is pretty close.  Contrary to the prior comment, the Yanks hit more doubles 12-11 (though the Phillies had a triple and the Yanks did not) and while the Phillies had a 26-18 advantage in walks, the Yanks had a 6-1 advantage in HBP.  The final breakdown was 247/326/399 (32 runs) for New York, 227/318/464 (27 runs) for Philly.  The Yankees batting average and OBP were marginally higher.  Yes, if I looked at those numbers I would expect the Phillies to score more… Read more »
Bob Rittner
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Bob Rittner

Tom, as a matter of fact, my son and I were making that exact point right after the game. Stairs smoked a number of balls before lining out hard. Then the walk and Rollins hitting it to the warning track. Rivera was not fooling anyone and his command was spotty. Even with the two outs, if Victorino gets on- and how many pitches did he make Mariano throw?-you have Utley and Howard coming up to face a laboring Rivera.

Jeff Polman
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Jeff Polman

In my mind, Philly lost for 5 reasons:

1. Rollins is not only overrated, but a poor choice for a leadoff hitter.

2. Damon blew Victorino away as a second-spot hitter.  Johnny was patient and clutch, Shane a wild hacker.

3. Howard sucked and should have been hitting no higher than 6th against lefties.

4. As has been discussed, zero bench strength.

5. Manuel hated J.A. Happ for some reason.  How can you not start a lefty n Yankee Little League Stadium with a 12-4, 2.93 mark and go with Pedro?  Twice!

hhoran
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hhoran
I’m a Phillies fan since 1961, but I’m not making excuses, congratulations to the Yankees, they clearly won the Series. But I’d take Hanrahan’s point a bit further—the actual margin between the two teams was much, much narrower than the result indicated. But the Yanks won because whenever presented with luck (the blown call that Utley was out in G3 to get Rivera out of a jam) or opportunity (Ruiz drops the foul tip that would have given Lidge acclaim for a great relief job), The Yankees took advantage, and the Phillies didn’t. Both teams shut down the clean up… Read more »
David
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David

Speaking as a Yankee fan, I thought man-for-man the Phillies were stronger than the Yanks.  The difference is pitching.  Rivera is the greatest, unmatched by anyone.  And, it seemed to me that Philly lacks starting pitchers.  To use Pedro in game 2 meant he was the 2nd best starter.  But, Pedro was a crap shoot, given his age and injuries.  In short, the Phillies seem to have just one truly reliable starting pitcher.

Charlie Manuel
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Charlie Manuel

Why my boys lost the World Series:

I insisted on ignoring Brad Lidge’s 7+ ERA and 1.8+ WHIP, giving him the ball in a crucial situation.

I insisted on ignoring the fact that Chad Durbin is a replacement-level pitcher, and actually using him.

I insisted on using a certain guy at leadoff all season and postseason.  This particular guy had the same OBP as Yankee backup catcher Jose Molina.

I continue to refuse to move Ryan Howard down in the lineup against lefties.

These were all blaringly obvious problems long before the World Series ever started.  I insisted on ignoring them.  Sorry, Philadelphia.

Tom Hanrahan
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Tom Hanrahan
The Phillies lost because the didn’t have base hits fall in like the Yankees did. The Phillies drew more walks than the Yankees, struck out fewer times, hit far more doubles and home runs. Oh, and stole 1 more base. How many teams have had that combo and lost a W.S. – and in fact how were they outscored? Simply due to their line drives and deep flies and hard grounders gogi AT someone instead of beldding in beteween. They were not, I repeat, NOT outplayed (exception; the Yankees closer advantage made it more likely they woudl win tight games).… Read more »
hhoran
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hhoran
in defense of the real Charlie Manuel— 1. The Phillies had made a huge investment in Lidge, whose poor 2009 was partially physical (incomplete injury recovery) and partially psychological. With injuries to Myers and Romero, and non-closer performance by Madson, Manuel’s options (a) concede failure and go home (b) pull every string possible to see if he could get Lidge’s psyche back in synch. The result—3 perfectly OK playoff performances that took the heat off the rest of the bullpen and a WS game 4 performance that was a half-inch from success (a quarter-inch on the foul tip Ruiz couldn’t… Read more »
DMC
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DMC
It was a hard-fought series and the Phillies were a formidable opponent, but I think the Phillies fans that posted earlier are falling victim to some memory bias in deciding that the “hits falling in” so clearly favored the Yankees.  First, the level of certainty that this is true was a little surprising, especially given that as a fan you are more inclined to remember the fortunate bounces that hurt your team while failing to recognize those from which they benefit (misattributing your wins and runs to skill as opposed to good fortune, and the opposite for your opponent).  Second,… Read more »
Bob Rittner
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Bob Rittner
I just want to clarify that I was rooting for the Yankees. My points were in no way intended to suggest that the Phillies should have won the series or were the better team. On the contrary, I think the Yankees were the better team (just as I thought the Rays were last year), albeit not by a lot. My own response was to the statement that the Phillies were “blatantly outplayed over the next five games”. In no way do I think they were more unlucky than the Yankees or that the breaks were unevenly distributed. And I certainly… Read more »
Jamie
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Jamie
funny.  i was telling other people that i work with/friends that while the phillies did get beat by the better team, it was more of a luck thing than a superior baseball ability thing.  cliff lee dominated pedro dominated that game(except against matsui) hamels was doing fine until he gave up a weak grounded down the line(did the ball make it to the wall?), bloop(pettitte), bloop(jeter), then the damon smash. blanton outpitched sabbathia.  outside of that first inning he was unbelievably good.  he was a victim of an walk/infield single/bloop to give up two more runs. cliff lee again(till the… Read more »
Rob in CT
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Rob in CT
Both teams had some hard hit balls get caught. Cano, in particular, hit about 5 straight line drives right at fielders.  As mentioned in the article, Pedro was getting hit hard in game 6 before Matsui took him deep.  But those liners were being caught.  You remember it more when it’s your team lining out. Some of that (for both teams) may have been defense.  Swisher made a couple of nice catches in RF, as I recall.  On the flipside, Damon’s awful arm gave the Phillies a run.  Ibanez failed to catch ARod’s double… maybe a guy with more range… Read more »
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