Poor situational hitting costs Phillies in Game 1

Poor situational hitting costs Phillies in Game 1

July 13, 2013, 9:15 pm
Share This Post

The Phillies were 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position in a 5-4 loss to the White Sox. (USA Today Images)

Second and third, nobody out in the ninth. Man on third and one out in the 10th.

You have to score.
 
Either inning, a deep fly ball wins it. A grounder that’s not right at an infielder wins it. Almost anything wins it.
 
The Phillies didn’t win it.
 
The lowly White Sox scored two runs in the top of the 11th and beat the inopportune Phils, 5-4, Saturday in Game 1 of a scheduled day-night doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).

The Phils also lost hot-hitting outfielder Ben Revere indefinitely with a broken foot. He fouled a ball off his foot in the bottom of the 11th before grounding into a game-ending double play.
 
“I don’t have to tell you about how many chances we had,” said manager Charlie Manuel, who spoke before learning the extent of Revere’s injury. “We had some golden chances. All we had to do was hit the ball, and we couldn’t do it. Game was sitting right there for us two or three times.”
 
With the score tied at three, Kevin Frandsen and Darin Ruf opened the bottom of the ninth with base hits after a 38-minute rain delay. They moved to second and third when White Sox reliever Nate Jones balked.
 
The crowd roared as the Phils were 90 feet from another dramatic win.
 
But Carlos Ruiz’s fly ball to left was far too shallow to score Frandsen, pinch-hitter Laynce Nix struck out and Ben Revere was retired on a hard-hit line drive to right.
 
In the 10th, Michael Young walked with one out and Domonic Brown reached when Adam Dunn let his hard grounder bounce past him.
 
But Delmon Young struck out and Frandsen grounded out to short.
 
At that point, the Phils were 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
 
“Things were definitely going our way,” Manuel said. “The guy balked, then we hit the ball by Adam Dunn.
 
“We had some big things going for us, we couldn’t put the finishing touch on it.”
 
The Phillies got another decent start from Jonathan Pettibone (six innings, three runs) and they banged out 13 hits against six White Sox pitchers, three from Ruf and two apiece from Ben Revere, Michael Young and Delmon Young. Even their beleaugered bullpen was pretty good (one earned run in five innings).
 
But the absence of clutch at-bats in the ninth and 10th doomed them against a team with the fourth-worst record in baseball.
 
“We needed a ball hit somewhere,” Manuel said. “Just hit it. Make an infielder move or hit it deep enough in the outfield to score. We needed to make contact.”
 
Worst of all were the strikeouts by Nix and Delmon Young. Manuel was asked if he’d like to see them shorten up their cuts in those situations and while he didn’t say yes, he didn’t exactly say no either.
 
“They’re different kind of hitters than that,” he said. “They swing. They take a whack at the ball. They don’t work on, you know, chokin’ and pokin’. Their contact is when they actually take the ball and have bat control and send it the other way. They don’t cut their swing down … to hit the ball soft. Basically, that’s what they’ve been doing their whole career. Even in situations.”
 
But shouldn’t they be trying to make contact in those situations? Get the bat on the ball? Maybe try to win the game?
 
“You don’t want to strike out in situations like that, so you cut your swing,” Manuel said. “Ted Williams choked up. If it was good enough for Ted, it was good enough for a lot of guys. Good enough for me.”
 
The White Sox led, 3-2, in the seventh when Ruf tied the game with his second homer since replacing Ryan Howard. Ruf also had a single and a double and made a great sliding catch in foul territory 50 feet behind first.
 
They took a 5-3 lead off J.C. Ramirez in the top of the 11th, with the second run scoring on Jimmy Rollins’ error.
 
When the Phils got a run in the bottom of the 11th, that became the game-winning run.
 
The Phils, who had won seven of their last 10 to get to 46-47, are now 3-10 this year when they’re a game under .500.
 
“Anytime you lose a game, especially at that .500 point, you want to get to that point and stay up,” Pettibone said. “We’ve been playing well lately giving ourselves a chance to get over that mark. Now we just have to get over that hump and stay over that hump.”