For Phillies Phans this is the apocalypse. Chris Carpenter held the “can’t miss” Ashburns to just three hits, and the upstart Cardinals went on to take the NLDS three games to two in a sparkling 1-0 win in Philadelphia, ending the Phillies post-season dream of another October World Series appearance. Phillies fans were so disappointed, they didn’t even boo.
The Philadelphia loss was as surprising as the poor performance of Charlie Manuel’s team, which couldn’t put together enough hits to cage the Redbirds. “Actually, I don’t know what to say,” Manuel said, following the loss. “I just got through talking to our team, and basically when I look at it, we played 162 games, and definitely we had the best record in baseball.”
But the best record (and the best pitching staff), wasn’t enough to carry the Phillies into the NLCS — with Phillies’ fans describing their team’s elimination as “a crushing disappointment.” The depth of the loss is reflected in the Philadelphia blogosphere: “Thud” was the headline of The Good Phight, while Beerleaguer led its coverage with “Failure In Philly.”
But while baseball’s blogworld focuses on “the Phailure in Philadelphia,” Friday’s loss was more the result of Chris Carpenter’s pitching performance than the poor hitting of Ryan Howard & Company. Carpenter walked none and struck out three, taming Halladay in what Cardinals’ manager Tony LaRussa called “a dream match-up” of Cy Young winners. Carpenter threw 110 pitches, 70 of them for strikes. It was a Phorgettable night in Philly, but not in St. Louis.
Of course, there are teams in baseball that would love to have bragging rights to a 102 win season — including the one right here in Washington. But expectations were so high in Philadelphia that what will follow now is an off-season of recriminations, and an effort to find that one missing piece that Phillies’ fans think they need. It might be ugly. “There are no two ways around it: 2011 is a failure for the Phillies,” Crashburn Alley said. Oh, boo-hoo . . .
There’s even worse news. Phillies some-slugger Ryan Howard fell on the last out of the game and apparently tore his ACL. An MRI scheduled for today could lead to surgery. “I think the neighborhood’s changing a little,” Rocky said in Philadelphia’s signature movie. Yeah, that’s right — or perhaps, the finality of last night’s loss can best be summarized in Rocky’s classic statement admitting defeat. “Yo, Adrian, we didn’t do it.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The D.C. Internet Baseball Writers Association (of which we are a proud member) has published the results of their 2011 Washington Nationals Player Achievement Awards. Not surprisingly, Michael Morse received the most votes for the Goose Goslin Most Valuable Player Award . . .
The other winners followed form, with few surprises. Jordan Zimmermann garnered the most votes as the “Walter Johnson Starting Pitcher of the Year,” while Tyler Clippard was named the “Frederick Firpo Marberry Relief Pitcher of the Year.” The Association’s survey questions provided the greatest entertainment value, however — with Jayson Werth named as the team’s most disappointing player for the year. Yeah, well . . .
We’re supposed to have an opinion on this, and we do. Morse was undoubtedly the best Nats player this year, but it will be hard for him to duplicate that performance in the future. Morse and Werth and Zim will need another bat, and an on-base guy at the top of the line-up to contend in 2011. But don’t expect Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder to arrive in D.C. . . .
We’re not so impressed by guys like Denard Span (who the Nationals tried to land), and our mid-season fantasy for B.J. Upton has cooled. Everyone in baseball is intrigued by the Shane Victorino-type and for good reason. He’s great in the field and a sparkplug on the Phillies, but let’s not have such short memories. Philly fans weren’t so thrilled by Shane and it always takes a guy like him to get going. Maybe what we need is not a new lead-off hitter, but a little more patience . . .
We’ve always claimed that the under-the-radar “comer” for the Nationals is Wilson Ramos, a backstop who, if he stays healthy, could put together a 20 home run season sometime soon, and perhaps in 2012. So we would add a new category to those put forward by our colleagues at the D.C. Internet Baseball Writers Association — “most likely to succeed next year.” Ramos would be our pick . . .
If we had to make a prediction, we’d bet that Mike Rizzo & Company will also take a pass on free-agent-to-be C.J. Wilson, opting instead for a starter that can be had for less money and some prospects. There are some pitchers out there who are disenchanted with their current team, and might welcome a new setting closer to home . . .