Role Reversal: Phils Blow Early Lead, Series Tied 1-1

Role Reversal: Phils Blow Early Lead, Series Tied 1-1

The Phillies opened the NLDS with a dramatic come-from-behind victory on Saturday night, mashing their way out of a 3-0 first inning hole. On Sunday, they returned the favor to the Cardinals, losing a 5-4 game they'd led 3-0 after one.

A game billed as an aces' duel ended with 19 total hits, only a pair of which came off of the teams' combined relievers. Cliff Lee opened the game in dominant fashion, and his offense responded by pouncing all over Chris Carpenter in the bottom of the first. Carp looked stressed in his four innings, clearly frustrated by not getting calls he thought he should've. He was pinch-hit for in the fourth to try to keep a Cards rally going, and it seemed a great thing that Tony LaRussa would be going to his bullpen so early.

Unfortunately, the Cardinals' bullpen completely shut down the Phillies' offense, allowing no runs on only one hit through six innings. Their lineup's three-run fourth erased Lee's shutout, and while the Phils floundered against a handful of St. Louis relievers, the Cards found a way to eek out the tying run in the sixth and the go-ahead in the seventh. That spelled the end of Lee's night, and his offense was unable to pick him up.

On the evening after the Eagles choked away a very winnable game, watching the Phils lose a lead was that much more painful. Everything seemed to be going right early on, with Ryan Howard singling in JRoll and Chase Utley, and Raul Ibanez bringing in Hunter Pence all within the game's first frame. Pence added a fourth run when he singled in JRoll in the second, and the Phils looked to be on their way.

Lee threw nine strikeouts, but he saw some Cards hits fall in behind him, and the Phillies couldn't touch the six relievers LaRussa sent out.  

BECAUSE AMERICA WANTS TO HEAR LARUSSA WHINE
In a televised segment from the Cardinals' bullpen, LaRussa complained about the strike zone Carpenter was getting as compared to that of Lee. Carp had nowhere near the command that Lee did early on and clearly didn't have his best stuff. After the game, Lee was asked about the strike zone as well, but he answered with a "Whatever," and proceeded to take his share of the responsibility for the loss without an ounce of blame for anyone else.

LaRussa's players were chirping too, and Jerry Meals continued to have an inconsistent strike zone. However, neither team won or lost because of the calls from behind the plate.

The Phils' veteran bats got off to a great start, but fizzled quickly and left the door open for the Cards to even the series before it heads back to St. Louis.

BRIGHT SIDE
JRoll had three hits and a pair of runs scored. Howard picked up where left off last night, notching a pair of RBI on his first hit. Now he heads home to St. Louis, where he's usually pretty fantastic at the plate. The bullpen was solid, working three scoreless innings. Ibanez connected with Carlos Ruiz to gun down Jon Jay at the plate in the fourth, despite Jay slamming hard into Chooch.

INJURY UPDATE
Albert Pujols has been noticeably hobbled through the series' first two games, and CSN's Leslie Gudel reported after the game that he opted to take a cart ride out of the locker room, as opposed to walking with the team. Pujols had a pair of hits and an RBI on the night. 

BEST OF THE BANK
The sellout crowd of 46,575 was announced to be the largest ever crowd at Citizens Bank Park. Gotta feel particularly bad for the fans who caught both of today's Philly sports losses.

UP NEXT
Cole Hamels faces Jaime Garcia at 5:07 PM on Tuesday night in St. Louis.

Photo by Howard Smith-US Presswire

The Phillies season in one video: 'Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby'

The Phillies season in one video: 'Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby'

What is there to say about the Philadelphia Phillies?

In doing my usual postgame perusal of the Internet after their 7-2 loss on Wednesday night, I visited Phillies.com to see what kind of "highlights" they could have possibly posted from another crushing defeat at the hands of the Colorado Rockies.

Thankfully, the first thing that caught my eye was a video titled, "Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby."

It was not Larry Andersen in the Phanatic's arms. Nor me.

And that's the Phillies season in a nutshell.

"You gotta question the parenting skills here," John Kruk said on the telecast. And he's right! What kind of parent would raise their kid to be a Philly sports fan?!?

The Phillies now have the worst record in all of baseball. They're 4-20 in their last 24 games. It's their worst start to a season since 1960.

Even the Phanatic doesn't have enough popcorn to mask all the pain.

If you want to read about the upbeat approach Pete Mackanin is taking, go give this a gander.

"In a long season, these things sometimes happen," Mackanin told reporters. "I remember Atlanta, the first half last year, was terrible. They had a real good second half. I believe we just need to get something going. We're going to put something together. I believe that."

That makes one of us.

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

The future of Villanova basketball just got brighter.

Brandon Slater, a 6-foot-6 wing and highly touted 2018 recruit, told Scout.com on Wednesday night that he has verbally committed to the Wildcats.

He later made the announcement on Twitter.

Among the 2018 recruiting class, Slater, a product of Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia, is ranked in the top 30 by Scout.com and top 50 by ESPN.com. He's slated as a four-star talent by both media outlets.

Per ESPN, Slater had offers from Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Syracuse, USC and Virginia Tech. He is Villanova's first commitment for 2018.

"Going up there it just feels like a second home," Slater said, via Evan Daniels of Scout.com. "It gives me a good vibe. It's nothing like all the other schools. I just feel like a Villanova guy. It feels like PVI. It's already home."

Slater and Villanova head coach Jay Wright expressed their excitement on Twitter.