The Silence of the Bats

There is supposed to be an old Chinese saying, "May you live in interesting times." It is said to be a proverb and a curse. It is now the Phillies' fate.

They wanted boring but didn't get it. They wanted to sweep the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Division Series and be home in time to watch the Eagles. They wanted rest. They wanted simplicity. Instead -- because they couldn't hit a whit in Miller Park and lost Game 3 to the Brewers, 4-1; because they find themselves in a significant hitting drought in the post-season, again -- they get Game 4 today, Joe Blanton against Jeff Suppan, uncertainty piled high. Interesting times.

The silence of the Phillies' bats in the first two games at Citizens Bank Park was successfully camouflaged by superior starting pitching from Cole Hamels and Brett Myers. Last night, Jamie Moyer struggled to get through four innings but it was still only 2-0 when he left. The bullpen, so rested as to be in a coma, allowed only two more runs. The game was entirely manageable, all night, if this team would have hit at all. But it didn't.

The number .172 is famous now as the Phillies' team batting average when they got swept by Colorado in last year's NLDS. Well, in three games so far against the Brewers, they're hitting only .234. They have batted in 25 innings in the series and scored runs in only three of them, one inning per game. In Game 3, their only run was scored, appropriately enough, when Ryan Howard drove in Jayson Werth from third base on a ground out.

The hockey term at times like these is "squeezing their sticks into sawdust," even though most of the sticks aren't made of wood anymore. But you get the point. Is that what's going on here? That they made some noise in the ninth inning suggests there is life. But, well, that's it.

Oh, and the ending was absurd. You can argue about whether or not it was obstruction on Shane Victorino as he tried to break up a double play at second base. What you cannot argue is the abject incompetence of six -- six! -- umpires who did not recognize the implications of the obstruction call until Brewers manager Dale Sveum came out of the dugout and told them. That is, the runners have to go back to their bases, and the run that the Phillies scored in the person of Howard had to come back out of the dugout and get back on third base. Incompetence. Ridiculous incompetence.

Anyway, interesting times.

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