NLDS GAME 3
Phillies 2, Reds 0
“Like her husband, Sue has a glass-half-full personality. When asked before the game if the Reds being in an 0-2 series hole dampened her excitement for the night she said, ‘No, it’ll just make for a better story when we win the series.’”
“Oh, well,” Sue whispered tragically into the night wind. “Perhaps the Bengals withstood the Bucs.”
The Cincinnati evening had already sunk to its lowest point. The river’s chill whipped itself inside the town and sent a shudder of misery through its borders. Scott Rolen had struck out eight times in the last three games. It was no surprise to the audience when he stood there basking in the warm, uncomfortable lights after his third of the night to let the roof cave in and the finality of the Reds’ 2010 campaign end with a clamorous, conclusive thud.
Who were these Reds, a fan wondered. Who were these Reds on our field. They were not the NL’s #1 offense. They weren’t tied for least amount of errors in the league. There was no Votto-matics. There was only Manuel control.
The Phillies had done a splendid job of watching a structure collapse, while their support beams held fast. Cole Hamels pitched the second complete game shut-out of the series for the Phils, creating a passage through which the first playoff sweep in Phillies history could role (Starters’ ERA for series = 1.00).
Then there was the Utley-errors, the Ryan Howard K’s, the Reds’ errors, the fake HBP, the missing of third base, the Reds errors, and the Reds’ offense and their errors really fogged up this series. It was like an artist giving up on delicate, painstaking strokes to accurately create her work, and instead just started chucking balloons full of paint at the wall. It felt like any one thing couldn’t happen without 30 flags going up (Personally, I was relieved to confirm that it was indeed a Reds fan stopping Drew Stubbs short of any web gems). And each time, you had to realize that debates were just going to haunt this series until it was over.
And surrounded those debates would be rock solid, unquestionable, irreversible starting pitching from two of their aces.
The Phillies may be advancing in the playoffs again, but they are doing it like a team who didn’t hit 25 home runs in the 2009 post season alone. The starting pitching has eliminated the necessity for a hefty run supply, but when we did need some in Game 2, we were forced to rely on the Reds themselves, who for some reason obliged us by dropping routine plays in both a brazen and furious manner. Seven errors through the series is more than the number of hits and runs the Reds had in Games 1 and 3 combined. No, I’m not going to say “THE PHILLIES DIDN’T WIN SO MUCH AS THE etc.” comment brewing in my paragraph; everyone put down your revolvers.
I’m just saying, prepare for some slow-moving, low-scoring, high tension baseball with the Giants. The games will move fast, (as fast as playoff games are allowed to go, TBS has bills to pay), feel slow, and the K’s will be many. The offensive firestorms of post seasons previous seem to be somewhat restrained, if the NLDS was anything to note. The Phils will have to come alive in the face of Lincecum, Cain, and Sanchez–not to mention that Brian Wilson-sponsored bullpen–which is basically asking someone to be born twice.
Fortunately, the Giants will be forced to do the exact same thing.
This is all speculation, of course. The Braves should have every chance to pull through and win two.
“Not on my watch,” Brooks Conrad growled.
Also Pat Burrell will be here. That will be kind of funny.
Regardless, tonight, there was only Cole Hamels on the mound, slowly, systematically erasing them one by one. It was a devastating display and by the end of it, the Reds found themselves at the ass-end of their playoff run. If you regular the message boards of opposing teams after we have done something particularly tragic to them (e.g., no-hit them, knock them out of playoffs), you’ll find that these Reds are pretty close to the 2007 Phillies. It is almost as if they serve as a creepy mirror into the past, as we watch a newer, youthful reflection of ourselves give everything they’ve got in the face of seasoned, seemingly premature defeat.
And then, we turn away, and destroy the mirror, because it is clearly haunted.
But always, always, there would be Roy Oswalt’s smile; slithering into your dreams, hurling Vulcan change-ups in your face, and laughing like a lunatic clown.